Visakhapatnam, Dec 17: Left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav felt that his two wickets in an over changed the complexion of the match as India thumped Sri Lanka by eight wickets in the decisive third and final One-Day International (ODI) to clinch the series 2-1 here on Sunday.
India rode on a strong bowling performance to restrict Sri Lanka to 215 runs. Sri Lanka were cruising at 160/2 in 27 overs. But in the very next over, Kuldeep removed Upul Tharanga (95) and Niroshan Dickwella (8) to damage the visitors.
Tharanga was dismissed when Mahendra Singh Dhoni showcased a glimpse of his still lightning quick reflexes to stump the left-hander off Kuldeep's bowling. Dickwella then edged one to Shreyas Iyer at first slip, leaving the Islanders at 168/4.
Kuldeep's spin partner Yuzvendra Chahal also played a key role, taking 3/46.
"Obviously their batsmen were set and we knew we needed wickets in the middle overs. I got two wickets in one over and that really changed the momentum for us," Kuldeep said after the match.
"The wicket was very good for spinners, we were getting turn and sharp turn as well and that really motivated me to do well."
Kuldeep was selected for the match ahead of teenage all-rounder Washington Sundar, who fell sick.
"I worked on my lengths as well. It's just preparation that matters. Whenever you don't play you practice and work hard on your fitness and fielding, when you get a chance you try and put up your best performance," he said.
Captain Rohit Sharma also praised his bowlers. "When you have bowlers like that in your side, the job becomes very easy for the captain. You throw the ball and they get you wickets all the time. Whenever we were put into the tough situations, we responded well.
"We played as a team more than anything else. Everyone knew what they needed to do as an individual to win the series and they perfectly did that."
Rohit, who was named captain for the ODIs and the T20Is against Sri Lanka, said his team played a perfect game, taking pressure off the skipper.
In the first ODI, India were bowled out for 112. In the second ODI, Rohiut led from the front with his third double century as India recorded a huge win.
"I am very proud of the boys. I think the first game was a bit testing as a captain, because we didn't put enough runs on the board, and in the second game since we had lot of runs I had the luxury to try out a few things. It was a perfect game for me to settle in. And today was a perfect game," he said.