India captain Rohit Sharma was in praise of wicketkeeper-batter KL Rahul, saying the side gets confidence in a tricky run chase when an experienced batter is at the crease.
India's chase of 216 was in threat of not being chased down when they were reduced to 86/4 in 14.2 overs. But Rahul stood tall in an under-pressure situation to slam a gutsy unbeaten 64 off 103 balls and take India over the line for an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
He stitched a crucial 75-run partnership off 119 balls with Hardik Pandya, before putting stands of 30 and 28 not out with Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav for hunting down the total with 40 balls to spare.
"It was a close game but games like these teach you a lot. KL has been batting at 5 for a long time now, it gives you that confidence when an experienced batter is batting at 5.
It was a good display of batsmanship," said Rohit in the post-match presentation ceremony. At the same time, Rohit admitted that India would prefer to get a left-handed batter in the top-order.
Presently, all top six batters are right-handers, with Axar and Kuldeep being the only left-handers, but coming after the first six Indian batters. The main left-handed batting option in the squad is Ishan Kishan, who hit a career-best sensational 210 against Bangladesh at Chattogram in December 2022.
"In the hindsight, it will be nice to have a left-hander in the top order but guys who are being given the chance have got a lot of runs in the last one year. Ideally, we would like to have a left-hander but we know the quality of our right-handers and are quite comfortable with that at the moment," he added.
With a 2-0 unassailable lead, the final ODI at Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday is a dead rubber. Rohit also applauded Kuldeep Yadav for his stunning 3/51 and bamboozling the Sri Lankan batters in the middle overs.
"We will have a look at the pitch for the third ODI, and another ODI series is coming up as well. So we will see if we need to make any changes. Kuldeep just comes and gets the breakthrough, he is quite confident as a bowler at the moment, which augurs well for the team," stated Rohit.
Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka rued not having many runs with the bat, as his team were out in just 39.4 overs. "We were in the game but didn't have not runs in the game.
I think at the start we discussed about 280 but Kuldeep bowled well. We had a chance as the ball was moving. So I told my bowlers to stick to the basics."