Pallekele: Mahendra Singh Dhoni's oodles of experience in pressure situations came in handy as he successfully anchored a tricky chase, guiding India to a three-wicket victory against Sri Lanka in the second ODI, here on Thursday.
The former skipper scored a patient unbeaten 45 off 68 balls but more importantly mentored Bhuvneshwar Kumar (53 not out) as they added 100 runs for the eighth wicket to reach the revised victory target of 231 in 44.2 overs under Duckworth-Lewis method.
India now have a 2-0 lead in the five-match series. This was after unheralded mystery spinner Akila Dananjaya (6/48 in 9 overs) infused life into a series.
India were reduced to 131 for 7 when Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar joined forces. The pitch which looked easy for batting 15 minutes prior to their union, was looking venomous after the Indian batting line-up for the first time in the past one month were asked a few testing questions.
Dhoni showed experience worth its weight in gold as he tapped around for singles and doubles. The target being a modest one and the run-rate being under check also helped his cause as his innings only had one boundary.
The former skipper soaked in the pressure initially as Bhuvneshwar played a lot of dot balls. However once the partnership crossed 40, the UP criketer showed that he is more than a capable batsmen.
Earlier, Indian bowlers once again put up an impressive performance to restrict Sri Lanka to 236/8. Indian team would be disappointed as they had Lanka on the mat at 121/5 before a 91-run stand between Milinda Siriwardana (58) and experienced Chamara Kapugedera (40) enabled the home team reach a semblance of respectability.
Put into bat, Niroshan Dickwella (31) and Danushka Gunathilaka (19) made a quick start to their innings. India handed the new ball to Bhuvneshwar Kumar (0-53) and Jasprit Bumrah (4/43). The two openers showed aggressive intent.
Bumrah was taken for a few runs in his initial spell as Dickwella hit two sixes off him.
Lanka's 50-mark came up in the 9th over but Bumrah had got his revenge when he had Dickwella caught at short midwicket in the 8th over.
Kusal Mendis (19) then joined Gunathilaka and put on 29 runs for the second wicket before the latter was stumped off Yuzvendra Chahal (2-43) in the 15th over.
Skipper Upul Tharanga (9) then edged a simple outswinger from Hardik Pandya (1-24) to slip in the 16th over. Then Mendis was out leg before sweeping off Chahal in the 24th over as Lanka were reduced to 99/4.
It seemed a familiar script as Angelo Mathews (20) too followed back to the dressing room, out LBW to Axar Patel (1- 30) in the 29th over. But Siriwardana and Kapugedara pulled their team out of the hole with a resolute partnership.