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Loss, but no pain

cricket Updated: Aug 29, 2008 23:14 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times
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With Nothing at stake, little to play for, at the end of a 45-day tour, the last thing either team needed was for a pitter-patter to put lives on hold and draw out the last ODI to any more artificial an ending than was required.

But that's just what happened as India and Sri Lanka were forced off the field for 85 minutes before India could resume their chase of 228, with a fresh target of 216 from 44 overs. India fell short by 112 runs, but walked away with the series 3-2.

Sri Lanka were not deterred in the least by the rain, and turned 70 for 3 very quickly into 85 for 6 and sealed the deal. With the ball it was Nuwan Kulasekara who did the damage, picking up a career-best 4-40. Kulasekara began with the wicket of Gautam Gambhir, caught behind, and was lucky to have Virat Kohli (31) adjudged lbw.

Just before the rains came, perhaps with an eye on the Duckworth-Lewis charts, Suresh Raina had a massive swipe and only managed to top-edge to mid-off. When play resumed Kulasekara once more found umpire Tyrone Wijewardena quick to draw the finger, when Rohit Sharma was struck on pad well outside the line.

Ajantha Mendis bowled Yuvraj Singh with his first ball, an inside edge sending the ball onto stumps via pad. When MS Dhoni, feet rooted to the crease, missed an incoming ball from Dilhara Fernando, the game was as good as over. Mendis wrapped up the tail, and India were bowled out for 103, losing by 112 runs.

When Sri Lanka batted earlier in the day, it appeared as though they were just as keen to be done with the game early. The top-order, barring a flailing partnership of 77 between Malinda Warnapura (30) and Mahela Udawatte (43), failed to impress, with both Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene falling cheaply. At 133 for 6, Sri Lanka were skidding towards a low total when man of the hour Thilan Thushara decided to have a go.

The all-rounder, hitting the ball cleanly in the company of Jehan Mubarak, defied the Indians. The odd ball flew off the edge, but with nothing to lose, and the top-order having failed, you could scarcely criticise Thushara.

To the end India could not separate the two, and the 94 runs they added pushed the total to 227.

Thushara ended on 54, notching up his maiden ODI half-century in the process, and Mubarak (47 not out) had breathed life into a game that threatened to roll over and play dead.

Sri Lanka's bowlers responded strongly, and the Indians were unable to pick themselves up or raise the intensity as the match wore on and that flight back home neared. Sri Lanka won quite easily in the end, but it was India who had the satisfaction of a job well done at the end of the series.