Akila Dananjaya picked up his maiden fifer, a collective six wickets, and had India in serious trouble but it wasn’t enough to pick up the first win of a miserable home series for Sri Lanka. In the second ODI at Pallekele, Dananjaya provided first glimpse of a win to the hosts as India chased 231 for win and were in serious trouble having lost five batsmen for 15 runs. But his effort went in vain in the end as India won by 3 wickets.
“We would have been happy had we won the game. I am very sad at the moment. I would have returned a happy man had we won,” said Dananjaya after the match.
The spinner took six wickets for 11 runs in just 21 balls to see off India’s usually strong middle order. He claimed three wickets in the 18th over with the Indian batsmen unable to read his wrong one.
“I am an off-spinner. Wicket taking balls are leg-spin and the googly. I bowl a lot of off spin. Work with Piyal Wijetunga (Sri Lankan spin coach) and if I need to bowl variations, Piyal tells me to do so as well,” said Dananjaya. “I realised that the off-spin was not helping much. So I decided to get back to my variations. The target we had to defend wasn’t too much either. So we had to take wickets. I bowled a lot of variations and it went really well,” he added.
Sri Lanka were denied a win courtesy a strong and impatient eighth seed partnership of 100 runs between MS Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. They rescued India from 131/7 to take the visitors over the winning line.
Sri Lanka possibly lost the contest and let go of the momentum by taking him off in the eighth over with the advantage firmly by their side. It allowed the pairing to settle down. “They were set and I thought better to get back later on if someone breaks the partnership. We wanted to win the game. Once wickets come along we also gained confidence. But Bhuvi and Dhoni were superb. They batted really well against our bowlers. Nothing much of a change on the wicket,” he said.
Dananjaya couldn’t be part of the first game as he got married on Wednesday. “Wedding was in the afternoon. When I got back to the team hotel it was around 11:30 in the night. I wanted to reach earlier than that but it took a little longer. The wedding was at Moratuwa. Finished around 4pm and we were bit late when we came,” he said.