Images from the second One-Day International between India and Sri Lanka at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday.
Under-fire KL Rahul made amends for his poor run of form as he anchored India's series clinching four-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the second ODI with a dogged 64 on a tricky Eden Gardens track.
Snubbed time and again by the Indian think-tank, Kuldeep Yadav proved his mettle yet another time as he formed a lovely bowling alliance with pacer Mohammed Siraj to demolish Sri Lanka for 215 inside 40 overs after they opted to bat.
The paltry chase on the quick Eden outfield however was not a cakewalk for the Indian team, which lost its top-four batters for 86 runs in 14.2 overs.
Needing 130 from 214 balls, Rahul was the only designated batter left as he once again proved his utility in the middle overs with an unbeaten 64 off 103 balls that took India home with 40 balls to spare.
While there was a bit of seam movement on offer and ball from spinners gripping a bit, to be fair, there was no scoreboard pressure on the home team.
The win also gave India an unassailable 2-0 series lead going into the Trivandraum ODI on Sunday.
"I won't say it was a flat wicket, or it was doing a lot that it was impossible to bat. When Sri Lanka started, I thought it was a 280-300 wicket," Rahul said after the match.
Having started off with a boundary, Rahul was quick to slow down as he ran hard for his singles en route to a 93-ball fifty.
The need of the hour was to play sensibly as Rahul and Hardik Pandya curbed their natural strokeplay in a decisive 75-run partnership that came off 119 balls.
It was also a different Pandya (36 off 53 balls) on display as he took time and gave Rahul perfect support. Pandya however departed against the run of play, leaving 55 runs required from 95 balls.
India earlier endured some tense moments inside the powerplay when Rohit Sharma (17) and Shubman Gill (21) departed in four deliveries after an attacking start, while Virat Kohli (4) became the third casualty to be 63/2 in 9.3 overs.
Rohit’s bat took a faint edge behind the stumps to be dismissed by Karunaratne. In the next over Shubman Gill, who wowed the packed Eden crowd with his delectable cover drives, had a soft dismissal giving a straight catch to Avishka Fernando at short midwicket off Lahiru Kumara.
The pacer, who replaced an injured Dilshan Madushanka (dislocated shoulder), was all charged up when he cleaned up the last match centurion Kohli with a delivery that jagged back in.
More anxiety was in store as India were reduced to 86/4 in 14.2 overs when Shreyas Iyer was dismissed leg before by a ball going down the leg.
However, Rahul, relishing his role as a No. 5 was never in tearing hurry as he anchored the chase to perfection. He needed one good stand and in vice-captain Hardik Pandya (36) he got an able ally as they put up 75 runs.
"The good thing about batting at No. 5 is you don't have to rush. You can take a shower, put your feet up and watch the game. But I always think what team needs of me. If you can read the situation when you go in, it helps you and team. Batting at No. 5 has helped me understand my game better," Rahul said.
Kuldeep Yadav and Mohammed Siraj took three wickets each to demolish Sri Lanka for 215 inside 40 overs in the second ODI in Kolkata on Thursday.
The left-arm wrist spinner, who was mysteriously left out after a five-wicket haul in his comeback Test against Bangladesh in Chattogram last month, got a surprise call-up after leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal pulled out with a sore right shoulder injury.
Kuldeep (3/51) answered the call grabbing three wickets in his first five overs, in a spell that triggered Sri Lankan collapse from being 102/1 just when debutant Nuwanidu Fernando (50 from 63 balls) and Kusal Mendis (34 from 34 balls) had started to build a good partnership in the middle overs.
But as Kuldeep ran through the Sri Lankan middle-order that included the prized-scalp of rival skipper Dasun Shanaka (2), the visitors went on to lose five wickets in the space of 43 balls to virtually lose the plot after they opted to bat on a flat deck at the Eden Gardens.
But some late fireworks by Dunith Wellalage (32) and Wanindu Hasaranga (21) took the team past the 200-run mark before Siraj (3/40) polished off the tail.
Young Umran Malik continued to impress with figures of 2/48 from his seven overs.
Replacing in-form opener Pathum Nissanka, who was ruled out with a stiff back, youngster Nuwanindu Fernando looked solid and hit a splendid half-century on debut in a 73-run partnership with Mendis.
India's new ball bowlers Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj got some early movement with the former getting the early wicket of Avishka Fernando in the sixth over.
But the 23-year-old looked in complete control and negotiated the pace attack well as he along with Mendis took Sri Lanka past 100-mark after Siraj's breakthrough in the powerplay.
Fernando earlier took Siraj to cleaners smashing him three boundaries in a row but the pacer had the last word when he bowled him with an incoming delivery that took an inside edge to unsettle the middle timber.
From 29/1 inside six overs, Sri Lanka recovered well and did not seem to be in any trouble even as Rohit tried out both Hardik Pandya and Umran Malik.