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Cricket: Harmanpreet, Pooja shine as India sweep ODI

The Indian women's cricket team cantered to a 39-run victory over Sri Lanka in the final ODI to complete a 3-0 rout

Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur plays a shot during a match between India and Sri Lanka.
Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur plays a shot during a match between India and Sri Lanka. (PTI)

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Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and Pooja Vastrakar produced solid all-round performances as Indian women cantered to a 39-run victory over a clueless Sri Lanka in the final ODI on Thursday to complete a 3-0 rout.

Harmanpreet (75 off 88 balls and 1/21 in 5 overs) and Vastrakar (56 not out off 65 balls, and 2/32) first bailed the team out with a 97-run seventh wicket stand that ensured a decent total of 255 for 9 for the visitors. The bowlers then executed the plans perfectly to shot out the hosts for 216 in 47.3 overs with both Harmanpreet and Vastrakar chipping in with crucial breakthroughs.

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With this series win, the Indian women clinched their fourth consecutive bilateral series victory against the island nation. The women's side had earlier won ODI series in 2013, 2015, and 2018.

Having already sealed a series win, Harmanpreet's unit came into the final game as a confident bunch, something which the Lankans distinctly lacked from the very onset. With nothing to lose, Sri Lankan skipper Chamari Athapaththu won the toss and sent the Indians to bat on a surface that is mostly known to favour teams batting first.

Buoyed by the outstanding performances in the second ODI, openers Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana, however, failed to make a big impact. Mandhana was the first to depart (6 off 20 balls) as she fell victim to a length delivery from Kavisha Dilhari after her attempted cut landed in keeper's gloves. With a half-century under her belt, Shafali, continued her good form getting to 49 off 50 balls with some crisp shots.

She missed on her second half-century on trot by a whisker, after Rashmi Silva trapped her leg before. With 155 runs from three matches and with an impressive average of 77.50, Shafali finished as the leading run scorer in the three-match ODI series.

With Shafali departing at a crucial juncture, India suddenly had a middle-order collapse as they were left tottering at 124 for 6 before Harmanpreet turned the tables around in style.

The Indian skipper batted with a lot of responsibility throughout her innings and made the best of the short balls deployed by the Lankan bowlers to hit seven fours and two massive sixes. It is worth noting that majority of Harmanpreet boundaries came through the mid-wicket region and she was rock-solid on the leg side as well. Harmanpreet completed her fifty with a brilliant six over deep mid-wicket region, as she got low and clobbered a floated delivery from off-spinner Oshadi Ranasinghe to clear the boundary for a maximum.

While Harmanpreet played the captain's knock, Vastrakar played the role of a perfect second fiddle, courtesy three free-flowing sixes to hit her second fifty in women's ODI.

When Sri Lanka started the chase, skipper Athapaththu (44 off 41 balls) and Hasini Perera (39 off 57 balls) did show positive intent adding 56 for the second wicket but things wnet downhill after the home team skipper was dismissed. They found Rajeshwari Gayakwad (3/36 in 10 overs) difficult to get away while most of the bowlers kept the home team under tight leash.

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