India were a little flat on Sunday and it wasn’t just because they were playing two of their reserves. The team lacked cushion in bowling and the top-order failed for the first time in the series.
One can blame Dhoni for persisting with his part-time spinners — he needed to get 20 overs through between them and he made them bowl 26. He did not utilise Laxmipathy Balaji’s five overs and even Irfan Pathan didn’t finish his quota.
The wicket was slow, but with three regular bowlers at his command, Dhoni needed to make the most of them. That he didn’t cost the team dear in the end.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka, for the first time managed to score above 300 runs thanks to some useful partnerships. The openers scored quickly and then Tillakratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara were involved in a huge partnership.
While batting, India needed significant partnerships to chase down Lanka's total, but instead lost wickets at regular intervals. The openers have been in terrific form throughout the series but Sunday proved to be one of those bad days. That both Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir chose to fail on the same day did India in. The twin failure of Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma also did not help India's cause. For both Raina and Sharma, the stage was perfect to cement their spots in the team.
Yuvraj Singh was breathtaking but there were far too many shots played in the air. Dhoni hung on grimly but he needed support at the other end.
The defeat notwithstanding, Dhoni's men should not feel disappointed as they have been on a roll for quite some time now. It’s time to look ahead as there are lots of cricket coming up.