The Indian openers Gautham Gambir and Dinesh Karthick found no terrors with the Sri Lankan seam bowlers not getting any movement off the pitch or in the air. Welegedera, Lakmal and Thushara were guilty of bowling too short and wide coupled with 3 free hit opportunities to the Indians. The ball skidded onto the bat, batting looked very easy. Karthick was the aggressor while Gambir, nudged and flicked to a great extent enabling the pair to not only punish the loose balls but pick up the ones and the twos at regular intervals.
Sri Lanka got the first breakthrough when the free scoring Karthick erred when looking very good for a ton on 48. The right hander tried to open the face of the bat, but only succeeded in edging it straight to Sangakkara with India on 89.
Sri Lanka missed a great opportunity, when Dilshan put down a sitter off Gambir, with the total on 98 which goes to prove the off focus levels of Sri Lanka in this match. Gambir was put down again with India on 106 and this time by Thisara Perera off Thushara for the second time. Both catches were simple to say the least; hence the game started slipping too quickly in favor of India when they accumulated 103 for one wicket at the end of power play number 1.
Gambir and Kholi milked the Sri Lankan bowling knowing very well the target is paltry. The left hand right hand combination hurt Sri Lanka, plenty of singles on offer; Kholi was very wristy in his approach. Sri Lankan bowlers also obliged by bowling at his pads. The pair put on a 72 run partnership with minimum effort.
They played risk free cricket. Randiv did trouble Gambir to a great extent but Kholi was the man stroking the spinner with confidence. Gambir was dismissed in the run of play for 71, when he flicked at perera delivery a shade too soon to be caught by Welegedera at mid wicket with India in a commanding position on 161.
India rightly took the batting power play in the 31st over to enable them to get the bonus point, with India on 175 for 2 wickets with Yuvraj at the wickets. It was all too easy for India. A bad day in office for Sri Lankan. They are in the finals, but they will have to do a lot of soul searching before the finals on Wednesday.
Is Kumar happy with the combination is question number one. Will he play a specialist spinner to bowl in tandem with Randiv? Will he also look at his middle order combination, and make radical changes. The catching is much desired. Focus levels has to improve by more than a hundred percent.
India got to the target with a bonus point and that too in 32.4 overs. It’s a comprehensive win. Virat Kholi was unbeaten on 71. Lakamal bowling the 2nd power play over got a 20 run hiding which Sangakkara has to thing about seriously. It was evident that you need more batting strength from the seam bowlers especially against India; hence a Kulasekera and a Bandara option might be the option.
SRI LANKA 213 ALL OUT IN 46 OVERS
INDIA 214 FOR 2 WICKETS IN 32 OVERS
VIRAT KHOLI 71 NOT OUT
Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara decided to take first lease of the wicket stating that he wants to test his bowlers with the wet ball. Kumar also stated that he has put out his best team in the park by leaving out Lahiru Thirimanna, Nuwan Kulasekera and Malinga Bandara. Chanake Welegedera, Suranga Lakmal and TM Dilshan were the replacements.
A few eye brows were raised with India’s decision in resting Virendra Shewag, Ashis Nehera and premier spinner Harbajan Singh for this game. Dhoni replaced his key players with Dinesh Karthick, Amit Mishra and Sudeep Tyagi. India has a game tomorrow against Bangladesh, school of thought from experts was that India could have rested these key players against a weaker opposition scheduled for tomorrow.
Sudeep Tyagi known as a wicket taking bowler, did a sterling job when he angled his fourth delivery across the left handed Upul Tharanga who edged it straight to Dinesh Karthick at first slip with Sri Lanka still to open their account.
Runs were scored thick and fast by Dilshan and Sangakkara, they simply dealt in boundries.The right hander reached 33 in 17 balls. With the score board ticking regularly, Introduction of senior pro Zaheer Khan did the trick for India.
Gautham Gambir fielding at a 5th slip possision picked up a classy catch, low down, to send back the dangerous Dilshan with the total on 42.
The score board moved onto 60 with Sangakkara taking control. The array of strokes from the skipper was great to watch he square drove Tyagi, to the boundary and then drove him down the ground to record two consecutive fours. Jayawedana, in the very next over from Zaheer Khan gave the simplest of catches to Kholi at short extra cover, with the score on 60.
Disaster for Sri Lanka stuck yet again when Samaraweera got undone when trying to work a ball to the on side off sreesanth, and the umpire had no hesitation in ruling him out LBW with Sri Lanka back against the wall on 62.
Sri Lanka was in trouble and in the doldrums when Sangakkara called his non striker Kandamby for a single and sent him back. Kandamby is never a quick mover; this was very easy pickings for team India, Sri Lanka in deep, deep trouble on 66 for 5.
Just as Sri Lanka seem to settle down and bring in some sought of sanity into their batting, young Thisara Perera threw in the towel by going in for a big hit off Mishra only to find Yuvraj singh pick up a classic catch at deep mid wicket, with Sri Lanka in an appalling situation on 84 for 6. The Sri Lankan’s being bowled out inside 50 overs looked inevitable with only 18.5 overs bowled by India at the fall of young Pereras’ wicket for 11.
Zaheer Khan had an excellent first spell. He deserves all the accolades for his perfect line and length. The world class left arm seam bowler put the ball in the right areas, he single handedly broke the back bone of the strong Sri Lankan batting, paving the way for an early win in this game. Zaheers’ Figures 7-2-21-2, goes to prove his dominance on the Sri Lankan batting.
Kumar Sangakkara and Suraj Randiv put on a valuable partnership of 59 runs for the 7th wicket with Sangakkara playing with authority and Randiv gave his support from one end. In the 30th over Sangakkara gave it away missing out on another chance of getting to the three figure mark by mistiming a Yuvraj short hop, only to be caught by Suresh Raina at mid wicket for 68. The pertinent point for Sri Lanka is to bat the 50 overs with the score on 143 for 7.
Sri Lankan tail waged a bit with Thilina Thushara and Suraj Randiv, putting up a commendable 59 run partnership with Randiv scoring his first 50 in international cricket. Randiv puts a prize on his wicket and also recorded the highest score by a number 8 batsman by a Sri Lankan.
Thilina Thusharas’valuable contribution of 28 came to an end when he gave his wicket away in the first power play over to Zaheer Khan, after picking his spot and lofting Zaheer to the mid wicket fence for 4, in his first delivery. He then played a nothing stroke to be caught by Yuvraj Singh at short fine leg, and wicket number 8 for 202.
The Indians wrapped up Sri Lanka in the 46th over for 213, hence giving themselves relatively an easy target and more importantly a batting practice opportunity.
Suraj Randiv batted with purpose, so did Sangakkara, but he will be disappointed not having the much needed patience to bat thru the innings. Sri Lanka will be disappointed to say the least. The batting looked off focus from the offset, Jayewardene and Samaraweera should have taken the responsibility, given the role at number 4 and 5.
Jayewardene a soft dismissal, while Samaraweera just walked across the line of the ball before getting his eye in. Credit to India, they bowled very well and took all the catches that came their way. Zaheer Khan and Amit Mishra were simply outstanding and wonderful to watch, while Yuvraj, Gambir and Suresh Raina lifted the spirits of the Indians with their fine catching.
SRI LANKA 213 ALL OUT IN 46 OVERS
KUMAR SANGAKKARA 68
SURAJ RANDIV 56
TM DILSHAN 33
THILINA THUSHARA 28
ZAHEER KHAN 10-2-38-3
AMIT MISHRA 9.1- 1-40-3
SUDEEP TYAGI 7-1-46-1
YUVRAJ SINGH 4-0-18-1
S SREESANTH 7-0-38-1