Sri Lanka A opening batsman hit a scintillating century to help his team chase down a decent target and earn a hard-fought victory to level the five-match series at two games a piece after the fourth match had been washed out. The batsman was named man of the match for his performance.
Niroshan Dickwella has had an unfortunate career, having been dropped from two ICC World Cups just before the start of the tournament due to a string of poor displays even after being included in the provisional squad. However, like always, he has made amends of his exclusion as he maintained his good vein of form to lead Sri Lanka A to victory in Hubli in the last match of a five-game unofficial ODI series to end it at 2-2.
Having won the toss, they elected to put India A to bat first whose batsman struggled to capitalize on good starts and kept giving away cheap wickets in regular intervals to the opposition bowlers. However, opener RD Gaikwad stayed steady on one end as he played a sturdy 74 runs off 73 balls to maintain his good form after having scored 187* and 125* in the previous games, as he helped India reach towards a modest total. A brief flurry towards the end by Mayank Markande that saw him hitting a couple of sixes took India to a score of 259, a competitive and defendable total.
Niroshan Dickwella though seemed to have settled into the match right from the word go as he laced his well-paced innings with 12 fours and three sixes, while his opening partner played a fine innings from the other end while letting Dickwella have most of the strike, as the two put up 165 runs for the first wicket. Dickwella had previously scored an impressive half-century in the third one-dayer and is likely to return to the international set-up post the ongoing World Cup if he keeps up this form.
The match seemed to be going beyond the reach of India A until spinner Shreyas Gopal literally turned the match around by picking up three quick wickets. He first got Dickwella stumped, before taking the wicket of his partner MMMS Cooray in similar fashion after he had scored 61. He did not stop there as PBB Rajapaksa got put for a paltry seven, which meant Sri Lanka A had slumped from 165/0 to 185/3.
There onwards the bowlers failed to find any success as two composed innings from Jayasuriya and Priyanjan respectively took the team to what turned out to be a pretty comfortable victory at the end, reaching the target with 14 balls to spare. The result meant that the team was able to take away at least something from their tour of India after they had been whitewashed in the two-match Test series.
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