India won the third and final T20I against Sri Lanka by five wickets in Mumbai on Sunday. This result also saw the home side register a clean sweep in the T20I series as they won by a margin of 3-0. However, unlike the previous two encounters, the visitors did put up a spirited performance at Wankhede as India were made to work hard during the chase. This was after the Islanders batted first and set a target of 135. Despite having a small total to defend, Sri Lanka bowled well and took the game down to the wire. But the presence of mature heads of MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik saw India reach the target with four balls to spare. For his match-winning performance, Jaydev Unadkat was deservedly adjudged as man of the match.
Earlier, after winning the toss Rohit Sharma put the opposition into bat. The decision proved to be a fruitful one as India struck early in the powerplay. Young Washington Sundar and Jaydev Unadkat bowled well in the powerplay and reduced the visitors to 18/3 inside the first four overs. But from thereon Upul Tharanga (11), Sadeera Samarawickrama (21) and Asela Gunaratne (36) provided semblance to the innings. However, what lacked in the Lankan innings was a couple of big partnerships. Loss of wickets at regular intervals saw them lose momentum in the latter half as they finally folded up for 135/7 in 20 overs.
Chasing small totals can be extremely tricky and this was evident when the home team came out to bat. Indian openers, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul began cautiously but the visitors got the early breakthrough when Chameera Silva dismissed KL Rahul in the fourth over. After a slow start, Rohit Sharma finally broke the shackles by slamming a four and a six of Akila Dananjaya in the third over. It seemed at that point India were on course to a comfortable win. However, the captain’s stay at the crease was cut short by Dasun Shanaka. Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey shouldered the responsibility from that juncture. The Islanders were particularly impressive in the middle overs where they kept the run-rate below six and this saw the asking rate shoot up. With fours and sixes coming at a premium Iyer and Pandey decided to continue dealing in singles and doubles.
However, as the game edged towards the close, India buckled under pressure as wickets fell in a flurry. Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey and Hardik Pandya departed one after the other as India were reeling at 108/5 after 16 overs. But the experience of Dinesh Karthik and MS Dhoni ensured that there were no further hiccups as India romped home in the last over with five wickets in hand.