Colombo: In the end, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's punt paid handsome dividends. His decision to go in with a seventh specialist batsman, and to unyieldingly trust Manoj Tiwary's part-time leg-spin, played massive parts in India completing a hat-trick of One-Day International series wins on Sri Lankan soil.
Dhoni temporarily set the Tiwary v Rohit Sharma debate to rest, though Rohit didn't help his cause with another failure, by leaving Rahul Sharma, the leg-spinner, out of the playing XI for Tuesday's fourth ODI. India had made up their mind to chase, Sri Lanka were always going to bat if they won the toss – so Dhoni decided to pack the batting, but not even he would have had an inkling of how much of a masterstroke that would turn out to be.
It didn't take Dhoni long to figure out the nature of the surface at the R. Premadasa Stadium. It was a track where, the harder the ball came on to the bat, the faster it sped off it. Dhoni therefore used only 18 overs of pace, and none whatsoever after the 23rd over. Sri Lanka, batting by choice, laboured to 251 for eight after a promising start, and that only because Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath threw their bats around while adding 32 in the last three overs.