Paceman Jaydev Unadkat led a disciplined attack to set up India’s five-wicket win in the third Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka as the hosts completed a 3-0 whitewash on Sunday.
Unadkat returned impressive figures of 2-15 to help restrict the visitors to 135-7. India then achieved their target with four balls to spare in a tense chase at the Wankhede Stadium.
Manish Pandey top-scored with 32 but it was Dinesh Karthik (18) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (16) who put on an unbeaten 31-run stand to take the team home.
The win ensured that India end the year on a high after outplaying the islanders in the Test (1-0), one-day (2-1) and T20 series.
“I think it’s a team effort. The work ethic of each and every guy. They’ve done their homework thoroughly. It showed they were ready for the opportunity,” India skipper Rohit Sharma said.
“Lot of the guys were playing their first or second game but it didn’t feel like that. It was our job as the team management to back them completely,” he added.
Sri Lanka however put the hosts under pressure with regular strikes as paceman Dushmantha Chameera and medium-pace bowler Dasun Shanaka claimed two wickets each.
Shanaka got Sharma for 27, early in the chase. The in-form Sharma hit 4 fours and a six during his 20-ball stay but his wicket silenced the crowd.
Shreyas Iyer, who scored 30 before being run out while backing up at the non-strikers end, and Pandey then put on a gritty 42-run stand for the third wicket but their departure spelt trouble.
But veterans Karthik and Dhoni stayed calm in the final few overs when India needed 20 off 18 balls.
Earlier Asela Gunaratne, who top-scored 36, and Shanaka, who hit an unbeaten 29 off 24 balls, gave some respectability to the total after the visitors lost their top three batsmen for 18 runs.
“We learned a lot because we all know India is a big team at the moment,” Sri Lanka skipper Thisara Perera said.
“As bowlers, we did pretty well today also. Have to click with our batting. After that, we can go far.”
Meanwhile, India’s left-arm quick Unadkat, who removed the openers early, was ably supported by fellow fast bowler Hardik Pandya as they claimed two wickets each.
The 27-year-old Unadkat received the man of the match award and the man of the series prize as well for his four wickets and disciplined bowling in the three T20 games.
Apart from the paceman, debutant off-spinner Washington Sundar, who opened the attack on India, dismissed Kusal Perera for four and ended with figures of 1-22.
After a dominant home season across all three formats, India now head for their high-profile tour of South Africa starting January 5 with the first Test in Cape Town.