Vishakapatnam: Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin bamboozled the Sri Lankan batsmen in a mesmerising opening spell as India clinched the T20 series 2-1 with an authoritative nine-wicket victory in the third and final match, here on Sunday.
After bowling out the visitors for 82 in the series-decider with Ashwin finishing with astonishing figures of 4-1-8-4, the hosts cruised to the target in 13.5 overs. Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane were unbeaten on 46 and 22 respectively, as India finished on 84/1.
Earlier, Ashwin opened the attack for the hosts and took four wickets in a magical three-over opening spell to break the back of the Sri Lankan batting order. The off-spinner was unplayable as he returned his career-best figures in T20 cricket.
Sri Lanka could not even bat full 20 overs and were all out for their lowest total in Twenty20 cricket in 18 overs. Suresh Raina also shone on a helpful ACA-VDCA Stadium pitch by scalping two batsmen and giving away just six runs in his two overs.
Ppting to field, India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni handed the new ball to Ashwin and he responded with two wickets in the first over of the match. Ashwin had Niroshan Dickwella (1) stumped when the batsman charged down the track but was completely beaten and the Indian captain had an easy stumping to do.
In the last ball of the over, Ashwin trapped Tillakaratne Dilshan (1) and when he retuned for his second over, he had Dinesh Chandimal caught by Hardik Pandya as the rival skipper tried to cut loose but miscued a shot. The Sri Lankan innings was in complete shambles losing their first three wickets with only 12 on the board.
In his third over, Ashwin got rid of debutant Asela Gun-aratne and soon the Lankans were gasping at 21/5 with left-arm paceman Ashish Nehra taking the fifth wicket.
Such was the dominance of the home bowlers that only six shots to the fence were played in seven overs. It was only in the eighth over that Sri Lanka found sixes through Dasun Shanaka (19), who whacked Yuvraj Singh twice.
Sri Lanka: N. Dickwella st Dhoni b Ashwin 1, T. Dilshan lbw b Ashwin 1, D. Chandimal c Pandya b Ashwin 8, D. Gunaratne c Raina b Ashwin 4, T. Siriwardana b Nehra 4, D. Shanaka b Jadeja 19, S. Prasanna (run out) 9, T. Perera c Jadeja b Raina 12, S. Senanayake c Dhoni b Raina 8, D. Chameera (not out) 9, D. Fernando b Bumrah 1. Extras: (lb2, w3, nb1) 6. Total: (in 18 overs) 82.
FoW: 1-2, 2-3, 3-12, 4-20, 5-21, 6-48, 7-54, 8-72, 9-73.
Bowling: Ashwin 4-1-8-4, Nehra 2-0-17-1 (1w), Bumrah 3-0-10-1, Jadeja 4-1-11-1 (1w), Yuvraj 1-0-15-0 (1nb), Pandya 2-0-13-0 (1w), Raina 2-0-6-2.
India: R. Sharma lbw b Chameera 13, S. Dhawan (not out) 46, A. Rahane (not out) 22. Extras: (lb 3) 3. Total: (for 1 wkt, in 13.5 overs) 84
Bowling: Senanayake 4-0-22-0, Fernando 2-0-7-0, Chameera 2-0-14-1, Prasanna 1-0-3-0, Siriwardana 1-0-9-0, Gunaratne 2.5-0-22-0, Dilshan 1-0-4-0