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Shreyas Iyer stars again as India complete clean sweep


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India completed yet another convincing win over Sri Lanka, beating them by six wickets in the third T20I in Dharamsala and wrapping the series clean at 3-0. It was India's 12th successive T20I win, the joint-longest winning streak for a full member, and their seventh series win on the trot at home in this format.

Shreyas Iyer was among the runs again and remained unbeaten in the series, ably filling in for Virat Kohli at one-down. Picking the threads from last night, Iyer starred with 73* off 45 as India sealed yet another comfortable run-chase, scurrying past Sri Lanka's total of 146/5 with 3.1 overs to spare.

Openers fail, Iyer doesn't

It was Rohit Sharma and Sanju Samson opening the batting in the absence of Ishan Kishan, who was earlier today ruled out after being hit on the helmet in the last game. Rohit fell once again to Dushmantha Chameera, for the sixth time in T20Is, when he failed to get on top of a short ball while Samson edged Chamika Karunaratne behind for a 12-ball 18. Iyer, as a result, was at the crease as early as the second over, but there was no gauging the pitch and the pace this time around. He hit his stride with three boundaries in Lahiru Kumara's first over and there was no looking back from there. The half-century came off only 29 balls.

India squad players get a hit out

Samson opening the batting wasn't the only gambit from India who were looking to give all the players in the squad some game time in the middle. So resisting the temptation to give Mayank Agarwal a T20I debut in the absence of Ishan Kishan, who was ruled out after being hit on the helmet yesterday, India went in with only three specialist batters with a flurry of all-rounders to follow.

Furthermore, it was Deepak Hooda who batted at No.4, and Venkatesh Iyer who batted at No.5 instead of Ravindra Jadeja who only last night had taken India to victory. Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were all rested, and Jadeja didn't bowl, which allowed Mohammed Siraj, Avesh Khan, Ravi Bishnoi and Kuldeep Yadav to turn their arm over.

Earlier, Sri Lanka were slow and steady...

Well, this wasn't the kind that wins races, not in T20 cricket at least. Opting to bat first (and you could see why Sri Lanka did that, wanting to test themselves on a pitch with good pace and bounce, a la Australia), the visitors went nowhere with the opportunity, totalling only 43 runs in the first 10 overs. They didn't have Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar to contend with, but Siraj and Avesh made no less impact, reducing Sri Lanka to 11/3 inside four overs. Danushka Gunathilaka was the first one to go, dragging a ball from Siraj onto his stumps in the opening over. Avesh followed up in the next over, getting Pathum Nissanka caught at mid-off to get his first international wicket and soon also had Charith Asalanka with the extra bounce. Siraj and Avesh bowled three overs each in the powerplay, letting Sri Lanka score only 18 runs in that period.

The struggle against spin continued

There was no Chahal either today but Bishnoi and Kuldeep stepped up in the middle overs, bowling their 8 overs for 57 runs. Bishnoi, a touch more expensive than Kuldeep, struck in his first over, getting Lanith Liyanage with his googly. Overall, Sri Lankan batters struggled to read the spinners off the hand and had a difficult time hitting boundaries in the middle overs.

Shanaka to the rescue again

It was the Sri Lankan captain who once again lifted Sri Lanka to 146, a total unimaginable when the visitors were reeling at 78/5 after 15 overs. He once again picked a few runs off Harshal Patel at the back end, but it was Avesh against whom he helped pick 19 runs in the 19th over. Avesh finished with figures of 2 for 23 despite a costly final over.

68 runs came in the last five overs, thanks to an unbeaten 86-run stand with Chamika Karunaratne. But all that aside, the total still proved far short of par for a powerful Indian batting on the charge.

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 146/5 in 20 overs (Shanaka 74*; abesh 2-23) lost to India 148/4 in 16.5 overs (Iyer 73*; Kumara 2-29) by 6 wickets

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