Chasing yet another big target both Dilshan and Upul Tharanga got about their business in similar fashion to that of Rajkot just three days ago. Dilshan and his partner Tharanga tore into the Indian attack by cutting, pulling and executing great drives down the ground with great timing .The fifty came up in the seventh over with the Indian captain having no answer in stopping the run feast enjoyed by the dominating willows of the Sri Lankan openers.
With no choice left, Dhoni brought in his trump card Harbajan in the eight over with the power play overs in progress. Dilshan like his IPL counterpart Sehwag sets up bowlers, not the other way round where bowlers set up batsman. Dilshan came down the pitch after noticing the extra flight and thumped the crafty off spinner for two glorious boundaries. Harbajan then bowled the in form Dilshan a quicker and a wider delivery which Dilshan read perfectly by staying in the crease and cutting him to backward of point for yet another boundry.Such was his form, what a beauty of an innings.
The opening pair put on 102 runs with Dilshan taking the major share of the cake with 63 runs to his credit. Upul Tharanga striking it well on 37 then lost concentration when he came down the pitch, miss read the line and edged a simple catch to Sehwag who pocketed it in the slip cordon, off the bowling of Harbajan Singh.
Sangakkara and Dilshan played very sensible cricket by rotating the strike and not letting the Indian bowlers settle to a rhythm. The Sri Lankan skipper looked in great nick, playing percentage cricket with a straight bat by middling and timing the ball. Dilshan then made a big error by pushing Zaheer Khan’s delivery to Suresh Raina at cover and called his skipper for an impossible single. Unfortunately for the visitors the ball which was stroked straight to Suresh Raina was thrown very cleanly to the bowler who had no problem in running out the in form Sangakkara for 21 with the score on 147.
Dilshan and Jayawardena then took control in a passage of play where ones and twos were the order of the day. The boundaries dried up for twelve long overs with the bowling power play out of the way. With Sri Lanka cruising without any pressure Ashish Nehra struck gold for the hosts, when he yorked Dilshan for a well made 123 with the visitors score card reading 213 for 3 wickets. Dilshans glorious hundred, his fifth in the shorter version was better than a run a ball effort made, in 113 balls with two massive sixes and twelve scintillating boundaries.
Kandamby and Jayawardena consolidated the innings with the target of 302 well within reach. Jayawardena playing with authority nicked a Zaheer Khans out swinger to the waiting glove of the Indian skipper and the score book, recorded the inevitable, Jayawardena Caught Dhony Bowled Zaheer Khan 39, with Sri Lanka entering the danger zone of 232 runs for four wickets.
Kandamby who joined Angelo Mathews at the wickets took the pressure off when he cover drove Zaheer Khan with the full face of the bat, however the first Ariel stroke he executed off Zaheer was brilliantly held by Virat Kohli at mid on.
Kandamby walked back to the hut rather dejected, Sri Lanka giving a ray of hope to the hosts with the score on 264 for 5 wickets. Kapugedera who replaced Jayasuriya as the specialist middle order batsman was brilliantly yorked by Zaheer Khan, who started to reverse swing the ball. The Indian supporters, who had glum faces, during the on slaught, were now chirpy with Sri Lanka losing their sixth wicket on 267.
Debutant Suraj Randiv joined Mathews and became a run out victim for 5, on his debut. The visitors seven down for 285, still needing seventeen to win, were looking down the barrel, the only light at the end of the tunnel being the presence of a limping Angelo Mathews. The score card looked good reading for the spectators who have not only enjoyed cricket this winter but relishing the seasonal fruit, oranges of Nagpur.
Ajantha Mendis joined Mathews, who by now was aided by a runner in Kapugedera. The Indians panicked in the penultimate over, conceded nine runs with Zaheer Khan miss fielding a straight drive from Mathews to give the Sri Lankans, the much needed boundary.
Sri Lanka tied the game in the penultimate over, and in the final over off the very fist ball off Ravindra Jadeja, the ball was dispatched to the fence by Angelo Mathews to level the series.
Ravi Sharstri was spot on when he stated that there is nothing to choose between both sides, they are evenly matched, with the classy stroke makers.
1st Session Bulletin
Missed oppotunities help India to 301
At the VCA stadium at Nagpur today, India decided to play the same combination that beat Sri Lanka in the run feast ODI at Rajkot on Tuesday.
Sri Lanka on the other hand decided to get in a few fresh legs. Jayasuriya, Samaraweera, kulasekera were left out, with two debutants namely Suranga Lakmal and suraj Randeev being given an opportunity on the big stage.
The Sri Lankans also brought in Kapugedera and Ajantha Mendis for today’s encounter. The visitors also made a change in their game plan by going in with seven batsman and four bowlers, instead of the eight three combination which they pursued with in their last outing.
Sri Lanka is hampered with injuries to two front line bowlers namely Dilhara Fernando and Muttia Muralitheran. Skipper Sangakkara, will have to ensure his inexperience bowlers get ball into the correct areas, to avoid the ball being carted around.
MS Dhony called correct at the toss and decided to bat first on a pitch that looked good for batting. For a change Sri Lanka drew first blood when Welegedera had Sehwag caught brilliantly by Sangakkara in 3rd delivery of his first over, for four runs. The entire stadium simply came to stand still while silence prevailed, with heads turning around to see their hero take a long walk back to the pavilion.
Welegedera must be complimented for bowling back of a length to Tendulkhar and nipping the odd ball back on a pitch that did aid the left arm seamer. Mathews too should be complimented for keeping it nice and simple by bowling in the right areas.
Indian’s lost their second wicket when Gambir tried to test the throwing arm of Angelo Mathews at mid on and ended up as a run out victim for 2 runs with India on 18.
Tendulkhar and Virat Kohli played sensible cricket. They rotated the strike took full toll of over pitched and the odd short deliveries to push the score to 73 at the end of the bowling power play overs.
Sachin Tendulkhar, batting on 43 lost concentration off an Ajantha Mendis straight delivery. The little master went down the pitch and was deceived in the air to be cleverly stumped by Sangagkkara with India on 82.
Virat Kohli made headway by placing the ball into gaps, executing well timed strokes in his stroke filled 54 which included seven hits to the fence. The right hander was adjudicated LBW, when he played the wrong line to an off spinner that turned into his pads, giving Young Suraj Randeev his first one day victim with India on 132.
Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni came up with a sterling performance with the pitch drying up and batting becoming relatively easy. Both Dhoni and Raina played some breathtaking strokes much to the delight of Indian supporters. In fact the big hitting forbear after the early dismissal of sehwag started again.
Dhoni batting on 49 was given two lives in the same over by Sangakkara, off the bowling of Mendis. Sangakkara missed a regulation edge and an easy stumping opportunity. Dhoni made the Sri Lankans pay in plenty. The Indian pair made 50 runs during the batting power play. Raina departed after making 68 off 54 deliveries with three big sixes and four boundaries. The left hander was caught off a short delivery off Angelo Mathews, at deep mid wicket by young Suranga Lakmal with India on 258.
The Dhoni/Raina on slaughter fetched 126 runs for the 5th wicket. Dhoni after giving a half chance to Welegedera on 21 and two easy chances on 49 and the fourth on 96, the culprit being Mendis on this occasion reached his 6th one day hundred and his second on the trot at the VCA stadium.
India ended their allotted fifty overs on 301 for 7 wickets. The Sri Lankans ultimately dismissed Dhoni for 107 in the 50th over. It was like closing the gate after the horse had bolted, taking into consideration the 4 chances that went a begging.
Harbajan Sing was dismissed off the last ball off debutant Suraj Randeev who had him stumped by skipper Sangakakra to give him decent bowling figures of 3 for 51 in ten overs.
Sri Lanka’s ground fielding in the second half of play was not up to scratch. The target looks daunting, 308. Sri Lanka are capable, but this pitch is holding up a bit let’s keep our fingers crossed.
India 301 for 7 wickets in 50 overs.
Sri Lanka 305 for 7 wickets in 49.1 overs
TM Dilshan 123
Mathews 37 Not out
Zaheer Khan 3 for 63