Rahul, Kuldeep give India unassailable lead over Sri Lanka

KOLKATA: Sri Lanka succumbed to their second successive defeat as Kuldeep Yadav and KL Rahul-inspired India overcame a few hiccups to clinch the second ODI with a four-wicket victory and took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

The wicketkeeper-batter Rahul played a pivotal role in guiding India home in a tricky run-chase that embarked with a poor start as the hosts lost four wickets for a mere 86 runs in the 15th over with captain Rohit Sharma and star batter Virat Kohli perishing cheaply.

Rahul stitched an anchoring fifth-wicket 75-run partnership with Hardik Pandya, who fell after a crucial 36-run knock in 53 deliveries that featured four boundaries.

Following his departure, Rahul then put on another vital partnership that powered India closer to triumph as his sixth-wicket stand with Axar Patel added 30 runs.

The right-handed batter top-scored for India with an unbeaten 64-run knock in 103 deliveries, laced with six boundaries, while India’s hero with the ball also chipped in the run chase with an unbeaten run-a-ball 10.

Chamika Karunaratne and Lahiru Kumara bagged two wickets each, while Kasun Rajitha and Dhananjaya de Silva made one scalp each.

Batting first after winning the toss, Sri Lanka endured a fierce attack from Kuldeep and Mohammed Siraj, who picked up three wickets each as the touring side bundled for 215 in the 40th over.

At one stage, Sri Lanka were looking pretty solid to put up a big total amid the second-wicket partnership between Nuwanidu Fernando and wicketkeeper-batter Kusal Mendis as the duo added 73 runs.

Kuldeep then provided a much-needed breakthrough to India as he trapped Mendis in his legs for 34 which consequently, triggered the touring side’s batting collapse.

Fernando unluckily became a part of the frustrating collapse as he got run out soon after amassing his half-century. The young batter remained the top-scorer for Sri Lanka with 50 off 63 deliveries.

Sri Lanka then could not recover from the collapse and was soon bundled out for a mere 215 despite a fighting 32-run knock by Dunith Wellalage as the remaining batters seemed clueless against the Indian bowling attack.

Kuldeep and Siraj claimed three wickets each for India, while Umran Malik bagged two.

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