Umesh Yadav India Ajinkya Rahane Akshar Patel
India fast bowler Umesh Yadav celebrates a Sri Lanka wicket with teammates Akshar Patel (R) and Ajinkya Rahane (L)IANS

Mahela Jayawardene, one of the most elegant just-wanna-watch-him-bat-and-bat batsmen you have in cricket right now, unfurled a wonderful century against India yet again to give Sri Lanka some hope of keeping the ODI series alive, only for that hope to vanish without a trace the moment India hit their stride with the bat in the chase, which was pretty much from ball one.

With a score of just 243 to chase, despite that brilliant century from Jayawardene, India were never going to be troubled, with Shikhar Dhawan (91, 79b, 8x1, 1x6) striking a delightful knock of his own, his second of the series, to guide the home team to the most emphatic of series victories in Hyderabad.

Angelo Mathews called that flip of the coin right for the third straight time, and chose to bat first for a second consecutive game, but the batsmen, apart from Jayawardene, and to a certain extent Tillakaratne Dilshan, failed to put their hands up one more time as Umesh Yadav (four for 53) and Akshar Patel (three for 40) shone with the ball for the home team.

Jayawardene's innings of 118 (124b, 12x4, 1x6) was worth the price of the ticket on its own, though, but even the great man, probably playing one if his last few knocks on Indian soil in an international game, could only do so much as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 242 in 48.2 overs.

India began the chase well, courtesy Dhawan, then closed in on the target in the middle overs, thanks largely to Dhawan again, before finishing off the match with plenty of oomph and a bit of arrogance (read ODI batsman extraordinaire Virat Kohli) in just 44.1 overs and six wickets to spare to complete a 3-0 series victory in this five-match series.

Dhawan, who plays his IPL cricket at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, and Ajinkya Rahane gave India the solid start they needed to ensure there would not be too many problems in the chase, by putting on 62 runs for the first wicket in 12 overs.

Rahane (31, 47b, 5x4) fell to Thisara Perera in the final ball of the 12th over, gloving a quick short delivery to Jayawardene at slip, but Ambati Rayudu, the centurion from the last match, came in and steadied the ship alongside Dhawan, who was in full flow.

The duo put on 69 runs together and looked on course to take India to victory on their own, before a misunderstanding between the two led to Rayudu (35, 46b, 3x4) getting run out.

It mattered little, however, as in came Kohli (53, 61b, 4x4, 1x6) to stroke the ball with ridiculous ease to take India home, while also becoming the fastest player to 6000 ODI runs, with the only blemish being that Dhawan could not quite get to the three-figure mark, as the left-hander was wrongly given out caught behind nine runs short of what would have been a deserved hundred.

Mahela Jayawardene Sri Lanka
A century from Mahela Jayawardene was not enough to keep Sri Lanka in the seriesIANS

Earlier, it was the batting Powerplay that proved to be Sri Lanka's bane again, as three Sri Lankan wickets tumbled in that five-over spell, quelling all momentum and leaving Jayawardene with just too much to do.

Sri Lanka had put themselves in a position of decent strength courtesy a 105-run partnership between Jayawardene and Dilshan (53, 80b, 7x4), after the away team lost two wickets in a hurry at the beginning.

Umesh Yadav, warming up to his role as India's strike bowler with every passing game, picked up both of the early wickets, first finding the outside edge of Kusal Perera off a ripper of a delivery which jumped up and just left the left-hander a touch.

Kumar Sangakkara was then sent packing by Yadav for a golden duck, as another wonderful delivery, which reared up from a good length and left the batsman, gave the opportunity for R Ashwin to complete a catch at first slip.

A partnership was required if Sri Lanka did not want this match to go pear-shaped just a few overs in, and Dilshan and Jayawardene provided just that with their century alliance for the third wicket.

The experienced duo took the Lankans to 112 for three in 25 overs before Dilshan was dismissed by Ambati Rayudu, the main man from the last ODI, of all people, as the opener perished while attempting to take on the part-time bowler.

Jayawardene would have hoped Mathews, the top scorer for Sri Lanka in the Ahmedabad one-day international, would stay with him and build another partnership, before taking off in the final overs, but that dreaded batting Powerplay came back to haunt the batting team yet again.

Mathews was picked up by Akshar Patel, deservedly preferred to Ravindra Jadeja, who made way for Dhawal Kulkarni, as the left-armer induced a top-edge off a pull shot with Virat Kohli, who skippered the innings really well after losing Ishant Sharma (4-1-14-0) to injury early on, completing a simple catch at mid-off.

Sri Lanka's batsmen not bearing the name of Dilshan, Sangakkara, Jayawardene or Mathews, have not quite clicked in this series, and Ashan Priyanjan and Chaturanga De Silva fell quickly enough, as Patel picked up two more wickets to finish with outstanding figures of 10-1-40-3.

Jayawardene and Seekkuge Prasanna (29, 32b, 2x4, 1x6) put on a nice little partnership of 67 runs from just 49 balls to restore some momentum, after the dangerous Thisara Perera also fell without troubling the scorers too much.

Jayawardene coasted to his 17th ODI hundred in the process, and once the great man fell to R Ashwin in over number 45, the Sri Lankan innings ended in a whimper as Yadav (9-0-53-4) finished with his best figures in ODI cricket.

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