Captain Harmanpreet Kaur slammed 75 while left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad took a three-wicket haul and Pooja Vastrakar shined with her all-round brilliance to help India defeat Sri Lanka by 39 runs in the third ODI at Pallekele to complete a 3-0 series sweep.
At one point, India were 124/6 in 29.2 overs and from there, Harmanpreet rescued India with her 16th ODI fifty, an 88-ball 75, laced with seven fours and two sixes. She also shared a crucial 97-run stand with Pooja, who remained unbeaten on 56 off 65 balls, hitting three sixes as India reached 255/9 in their 50 overs.
In defence of 255, Harmanpreet removed Sri Lanka skipper Chamari Athapaththu for 44 off 41 balls to land a huge blow to the hosts’ chase. Rajeshwari then took three wickets while conceding 36 runs in her ten overs while Pooja and Meghna Singh picked two late wickets as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 216 in 47.3 overs.
After youngster Vishmi Gunaratne fell cheaply, Chamari and Hasini Perera (39 off 57 balls) shared a stand of 56 runs to give the hosts in the hunt of chasing down the total. Unfortunately, neither of them got a big knock as Rajeshwari bowled Hasini through the gate while Harmanpreet got Chamari to be caught at mid-on.
Post Chamari’s fall, wickets fell quickly for Sri Lanka and despite all-rounder Nilakshi de Silva (48 not out off 59 balls) putting stands of 28 and 33 with Rashmi de Silva and Inoka Ranaweera for the last two wickets, it was simply too late for Sri Lanka to avoid a series sweep at the hands of India.
Earlier, India lost opener Smriti Mandhana early, but youngster Shafali Verma hit five rollicking boundaries for a 50-ball 49 before being trapped lbw by leg-spinner Rashmi de Silva. From there, India slipped to 124/6 in 29.2 overs despite a 50-run stand between Shafali and Yastika Bhatia (30) as Rashmi, Inoka and Oshadi Ranasinghe triggered a middle-order collapse.
But from there, Harmanpreet took charge of the batting and steadied the ship with Pooja being the perfect second fiddle. They were also helped by the fact that Pooja was dropped early in her innings at mid-wicket while later, Harmanpreet survived a stumping chance when Anushka Sanjeevani missed it.
The pair took risks against spin, which paid off in stitching a 97-run partnership of 117 deliveries as India ended up with 255/9, giving the bowling attack a competitive total to defend against the Sri Lankans. Harmanpreet was adjudged Player of the Match and also took the Player of the Series award. In the T20I series, which India won 2-1, Harmanpreet had clinched the Player of the Series award as well.