New Delhi: In what could be termed as the perfect preparation for the upcoming Asia Cup T20 and ICC World Twenty20 competitions, a clinical Indian side trounce Sri Lanka by nine wickets in the third and final Twenty20 International match at Visakhapatnam on Sunday.
The win also helped India win the three-match series 2-1 and maintain their numero uno position in the ICC Twenty20 ranking. It also meant that Mahendra Singh Dhoni has lead the team to back-to-back Twenty20 series wins following their 3-0 success in Australia.
Hero of the match Ravichandran Ashwin produced a dream performace, taking four wickets in a mind-blowing opening spell after MS Dhoni won the toss and invited Sri Lanka to bat first at Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium.
The 29-year-old spinner, who won the man of the match award, was also adjudged player of the series for his impressive bowling performances, in which he scalped a total of nine wickets.
Today, Ashwin's efforts were ably supported by bowlers -- both pace and spin bowlers. Part-timer Suresh Raina was specially impressive, chipping in with two wickets, even as Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja produced good spells.
Ashwin thus recorded the best bowling figures for an Indian bowler in T20I. His figures read 4-1-8-4.
Chasing a tricky looking target of 83 runs, India lost opener Rohit Sharma early, but Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane applied themselves and won the match with 37 balls remaining.
The Delhi batsman, who had played a pivotal role in India's series leveling win at Ranchi with his maiden T20I fifty, played a gem of an run-a-ball innings. After bidding his time, the left-handed batsman hit a six and four of successive debutant Asela Gunaratne deliveries in the 14th over to wrap up the match and series. He was unbeaten at 46.
He and Rahane stitched an unbroken 55-run, second wicket partnership to make sure India avoid any slip up while chasing the target. Rahane made a patient looking 22 off 24 deliveries.
The Delhi batsman was the top scorer with 106 runs at an average of 53. He was the only batsman to cross the 100-run mark.
The lone wicket in India's innings was claimed by Dushmantha Chameera. The 24-year-old paceman had a great series, and was the hero in Sri Lanka's win at Pune. He scalped five wickets in the three series, same as India's old war-horse Ashish Nehra.
Sri Lanka's total of 82 was also their lowest total in this format. Their previous lowest total was 87 against Australia, at Bridgetown in a 2010 World T20 match.
Talking about records, it's India's biggest win in terms of wickets.
After convincing wins over World Champions Sri Lanka and Australia, India will enter the Asia Cup T20 as favourites. The tournament proper starts on February 24 in Bangladesh.