The serenity of the picturesque Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium was disturbed by a crackling ton from Sanath Jayasuriya on Wednesday, but it wasn’t enough to stop India from cantering home to a six-wicket win in the first ODI here.
Chasing 247, India, without Virender Sehwag who was left out due to a back strain, overhauled the target with 11 balls remaining to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Opening with Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar was unlucky to be given out leg-before by debutant umpire Kumar Dharmasena to a Thilina Thushara delivery that pitched well outside leg.
It was, however, more or less compensated in the next over when Nuwan Kulasekara latched on to a leading edge from Gambhir - on 11 - and it looked as if it carried. But television umpire Gamini Silva wasn’t convinced. Tillakratne Dilshan then dropped Suresh Raina on four. The misses cost Lanka dear, as the two added 113 runs for the second wicket. Raina was particularly harsh on Kulasekara and hit two crisp boundaries and a six in one over to cut his opening spell short.Muttiah Muralitharan was one short of equalling Wasim Akram’s record of 502 ODI wickets when he had Gambhir caught at mid-off.
The Sri Lanka innings began on a wrong note after they were asked to bat first.
They lost the in-form Dilshan in the third ball, Yusuf Pathan running him out after he was sent back by Jayasuriya. The veteran made up for that with a superb knock braving the heat and humidity, bringing up his 28th ODI century and earning the distinction of becoming the oldest player to score an ODI century. But insignificant contribution from his teammates did not allow the Sri Lankan innings to take off. Jayasuriya, who became the second man after Tendulkar to get to 13,000 runs in ODIs when he got to 37, was named the Man of the Match.
The hosts lost the plot in the batting powerplay. They were 164 for two in 39 overs when they called the field restrictions with Jayasuriya and Thilina Kandamby building a partnership. But Ishant Sharma and Zaheer Khan took two wickets in the first two overs to rattle the Sri Lankans. They got just 32 runs in the five overs, one of which was bowled by Pragyan Ojha.
The left-arm spinner had a decent outing and got India the crucial breakthrough when he got Kumar Sangakkara, ending a 118-run stand for the second wicket.
The talk of the wicket assisting medium-pacers was proved wrong and the India new-ball bowlers Zaheer and Munaf Patel failed to get much purchase early on.
It got slower as the day progressed and Munaf, who had difficulty in sticking to a line, was given just five overs.