Sri Lanka given a herculean task of chasing 280 for victory, were in for a challenge dew or no dew ,taking into consideration the depleted batting line up, with the absence of Dilshan, Jayewardene, Angelo Mathews and to a great extent Jayasuriya.
Lahiru Thirimanna batted with composure but got carried away with the 3 boundaries he scored off Srisanthas’ first over. The young man shy of experience at this level, fell victim attempting a pull ,off a short delivery from Srisanth only to get a top edge for Gautham Gambir to pocket the simplest of catches at short mid wicket with Sri Lanka on 48.
Thirimanna on his debut recorded 22 runs, but it’s fair to state that he has the potential to play a big part in the big stage. Asish Nehera was most impressive beating the outside edge of both Tharanga and Tirimanna more often than not. He richly deserved a couple of wickets but was very unfortunate not getting an edge.
Sangakkara and Tharanga knowing very well that the batting in the bank is limited pushed the score along to 77 by the end of the bowling power play. Tharanga batting on 30 gave Harbajan his first wicket when the experienced campaigner had him caught and bowled, with the score on 77.
Sangakkara and Samaraweera came up with a superlative display of risk free batting very similar to what Dhony and Yuvraj did for India. Both the right hand left hand combination was a class of its own. They rotated the strike, played inside out, and used their feat well to counter attack the Indian spinners. They were an example to many youngsters on how to repair and resurrect an innings.
Samaraweera proved his critics wrong with an excellent display of disciplined batting. Sangakkara went about his task as usual nudging the ball into gaps and making sure that he kept the scores busy.
Samaraweera was exquisite in his stroke play especially in back cutting the Indian spin attack to great precision. The 122 run partnership was broken when Sangakkara was beaten in the flight by Harbajan singh and was caught at short extra cover by Suresh Raina for 60 made in eighty deliveries with four hits to the ropes, with the total on 199.
Kandamby was disappointing yet again. He must learn to win games. His un called for big hike off Harbajan put India back on track when Sri Lanka lost her 4th wicket with the total on 217.
Sri Lanka took the batting power play in over number 44 with the score on 224 for 4 wickets. In the 1st power play over, Sri Lanka made 7 runs off Ashis Nehera, but lost the wicket of Randiv guilty of trying the impossible single.
The 2nd power play over bowled by Zaheer khan cost India 11 runs.
Ashis Nehera was brought into bowl the 3rd power play over. The premier bowler was carted for 18 runs with Thisera Perera taking him to the cleaners.
Thilan Samaraweera made his 2nd ODI hundred, while Thisera Perera ensured Sri Lanka, a comfortable win by plundering 36 runs in 15 balls.
The 5 wicket win puts Sri Lanka on top of the table. Thilan Samaraweera proved his critics wrong, he put his hand up, when his captain needed him most. An Innings of this magnitude from Samaraweera will help him cement his place as a middle order batsman , while the carnage of Perera and his excellent bowling figures will pair him with Angelo Mathews as the two genuine all rounder’s, for Sri Lanka in shorter version of the game. Sangakkara in a post match interview didn’t mince his words when he stated an innings of this magnitude will want us to keep Samaraweera in the one day side.
India 279 for 9 wickets in 50 overs
Sri Lanka 283 for 5 wickets in 48 overs
Thilan Samaraweera 105 not out
Kumar Sangakkara 60
Thisira Perera 36 not out
Harbajan Singh 3 for 47
No prizes on offer as to what the captain would decide if he wins the toss at Shere Bangla stadium. Sangakkara lucky with his call today and had no hesitation in inviting India to take first lease of the pitch.
India was in for an early set back when Welegedera dismissed Gautham Gambir bowled off a peach of a Yorker for 8 with India’s score on 14. Gambir came down the track in the 2nd ball of the 3rd over and smashed the left hander down the ground for a sweetly timed boundary; however he erred when he moved across the line of the Yorker directed at his leg stump.
Welegedera who was guilty of giving the Indians two free hits had Shewag caught off another no ball when the right hander was on 35, with Indian total on 55. What a golden opportunity that went a begging from a Sri Lankan perspective, but in the same over he got Virat Kholi caught by Sangakkara for 9 with India on 62.
Welegedera came back strongly to get the prize wicket of Shewag when he had him caught off a leading edge by debutant Thirimanna at mid off for 47 which he made in just 31 deliveries plundering 9 breath taking boundaries with sheer power and exquisite timing. MS Dhoni joined Yuvraj Singh with India 3 down for 71.
The right hand left hand combination of Dhoni and Yuvraj has worked miracles for India in the past. The experiences they bring into restructuring an innings more often than not have won them many games. This pair has had 9 century partnerships in the past.
Sri Lanka got hampered with another injury when Pushpakumara fell on his shoulder and took to the pavilion for medical attention. Randiv as expected was very focused in curtailing the runs, but the lack of depth in bowling attack was very evident when Samaraweera and Kandamby had to fill in the void.
Dhoni and Yuvraj took maximum advantage and played good risk free cricket to accumulate the much needed runs keeping in mind the task of bowling second. The repair partnership got them up to 99 runs when Dhoni batting on 37 lost concentration and edged Tissira perera to waiting gloves of Sangakkara with India in command on 170 for 4 wickets in the 32nd over.
At the non strikers end Yuvraj looking very dangerous on 57 his 43rd half ton in one day cricket. The classy left hander who was somewhat tentative and rusty up front, got his eye in and what a innings we witnessed as Yuvraj took toll of the Sri Lankan bowling attack that lacked venom.
But young Tissira Perera had other ideas. He tempted Yuvraj with a short delivery which he pulled straight to Lakmal at deep mid wicket and the Sri Lankan’s breathed a sigh of relief to see the back of Yuvraj for 74, with India losing her sixth wicket with the score on 198.
Yuvraj faced 84 balls executed six boundaries and two massive sixes off Kandamby. Perera will carry back memories of having two prize Indian scalps namely Dhoni and Yuvraj.
When India took the batting power play in the 43rd over they were 225 for 5 wickets, With Suresh Raina and Ravindre Jadejah at the wickets.
Chanaka Welegedera went for 14 in the first power play over, Thilan Thushara for 20 in the 2nd, the 3rd came Sri Lanka’s way with Welegedera giving away only 5 runs and most importantly yorking Suresh Raina.
Thilina Thushara came back strongly in power play number 4 conceeding only 4 runs, dismissed Harbajan, a soft one when he spooned it in the air to Thisira Perera, but in the very next ball Upul Tharanga spoilt the party by butter fingering a sitter.
The final power play over bowled by Chanaka Welegedera was a beauty; he just gave away 2 runs and shuttered the timber of Zaheer Khan.
Ravindre Jadeja who took 20 runs off Thilina Thushara in the 44th over, fell victim to the left arm seamer in the final over, and caught by Kandamby for 39. India in their allotted 50 overs accumulated a very good score of 279 for 9 wickets setting Sri Lanka a target of 280.
Welegedera took 5 wickets for 66 runs an excellent spell, but spare a thought for Randiv who gave only 36 runs and was most impressive bowling against one of the best batting sides in world cricket.