KL Rahul and ruthless bowling attack secure ODI series win for India in Kolkata

Wicketkeeper batsman scores unbeaten fifty in four-wicket victory against Sri Lanka

India's KL Rahul celebrates after reaching his fifty against Sri Lanka at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday, January 12, 2023. AFP
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KL Rahul justified his selection in the Indian ODI team ahead of more in-form players as he scored an unbeaten fifty to seal a four-wicket win in the second ODI against Sri Lanka in Kolkata on Thursday.

Rahul hit 64 from 103 balls to help India reach 219-6 at the Eden Gardens in what became increasingly challenging conditions for batting. Victory thus gave India an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.

Most of India's top order managed starts but then lost their wicket as the ball stopped on the surface and also offered movement in the air throughout a hazy day.

All-rounder Hardik Pandya took the team to safety in the company of Rahul, scoring 36. Their partnership of 75 took 20 overs to put together but was exactly what the team needed.

All-rounder Axar Patel scored a run-a-ball 21 to take the score close to 200 and effectively put the game beyond Sri Lanka.

Rahul finished with six fours in an innings that should give him immense confidence, as he had kept wicket in the Sri Lanka innings. He also justified the team's faith in him, with Ishan Kishan sitting on the bench despite scoring a double ton in the previous series, and also Suryakumar Yadav.

The match was set up perfectly by spinner Kuldeep Yadav and fast bowler Mohammed Siraj, who took three wickets each as India bowled out Sri Lanka for 215.

India's Kuldeep Yadav celebrates the dismissal of Sri Lanka's Dasun Shanaka. AP

The tourists lost wickets at regular intervals to survive just 39.4 overs, despite a 50 from debutant Nuwanidu Fernando.

Siraj got things rolling as he bowled Avishka Fernando for 20 after Sri Lanka elected to bat first. Nuwanidu put on 73 runs for the second wicket with Kusal Mendis before Kuldeep, coming for Yuzvendra Chahal as the only change in the team, broke through with his left-arm wrist spin.

Kuldeep trapped Mendis lbw for 34 on the final delivery of his opening over and two balls later left-arm spinner Axar Patel bowled Dhananjaya de Silva for a duck.

Nuwanidu raised his fifty but was soon run out after a 63-ball knock. Kuldeep struck twice in two overs including captain and previous match centurion Dasun Shanaka, bowled for two.

Sri Lanka slipped to 152-7 when tearaway quick Umran Malik cut short Wanindu Hasaranga's breezy knock on 21. Number eight Dunith Wellalage made 32 and resisted along with the other lower-order batsmen to take the total past 200 before Siraj struck twice in three balls to wrap up the innings.

Updated: January 12, 2023, 4:05 PM