India came back brilliantly after their loss in Hambantota, proving it's all about playing well on a given day when two good teams are involved.
Chasing 286 was never easy but India, riding on a mature knock from Gautam Gambhir and the brilliance of Raina on sub-continent pitches, managed to come from behind for an amazing win. It was important for both teams to win the third game, and having lost it the pressure will be now on Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka will feel the heat a bit more with injury to Sangakkara who has been in amazing form. Ashok Dinda, who didn't have a good day with the ball, did manage to put Sanga out of the series. Although, I feel, the loss of one player, especially in a good team, doesn't make much difference but the hosts will now expect from the likes of Upal Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan and whoever the new man be, to stand-up and be counted.
Rise and shine
Such opportunities don't come often and this is how young players make their mark. Lanka also needs Mahela Jayawardene to step up to the plate. He looked good in the good last game, especially when Sri Lanka were under pressure. This might just provide him the opportunity to bat higher up where he has had terrific success.
At 187 for 5, Sri Lanka were one wicket away from finishing the game but the brilliance of Raina and Pathan did them in. Herath bowled splendidly but once again Sri Lanka lacked a quality second spinner. Their pace bowlers are medium pace and, apart from Malinga, they don't have the ability to stop runs in death overs. I am surprised Lanka didn't play a regular spinner in Randiv instead of Udana as I don't see the latter making an impact against good batters with such little pace.
I was also surprised to see Jayawardene not bowling Dilshan to left-handers. He needs to find a way to make Malinga more effective for the left-handers because he's giving more width to them. India must be happy with this win as it came under pressure and will take a lot of confidence out of it in the last two games. Zaheer Khan was at his best, improving as usual with every game. India, though, need to be careful, as it's going to be a new day.
The writer is a former India captain (360 Corporate Relations).
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