Paceman Farveez Maharoof claimed a sensational hat-trick as Sri Lanka shot India out for a modest 209 in their last league game of the Asia Cup cricket tournament in Dambulla on Tuesday.
Put into bat, India were sitting pretty at 189 for four in the 38th over before Maharoof triggered a collapse with
three wickets in as many balls to be all out in 42.3 overs at the Rangiri International stadium.
Maharoof trapped Ravindra Jadeja right in front of the wickets off the first ball of the 39th over. He then castled
Praveen Kumar with the second.
As the motley home crowd egged him on for a hat-trick, the 25-year-old pacer had Zaheer Khan caught brilliantly by a
diving wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara to complete the feat.
India lost four wickets in four balls as captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (41) was run out of the last ball of the previous
over bowled by Rangana Herath. Dhoni was beaten to the crease by a Chamara Kapugedara direct hit as he strove to steal a non-existent single.
Maharoof finished with five for 42, becoming the fourth Sri Lankan after Chaminda Vaas (twice) and Lasith Malinga to
complete the coveted feat. It was the 26th hat-trick overall in ODI history.
Invited to bat by Sri Lanka, who obviously wanted to bat under lights to prepare themselves for an eventuality in
Thursday's final against the same opponents, India were in troubled waters at 110 for four before Rohit Sharma and Dhoni raised 79 runs for the fifth wicket.
Amidst the Indian ruins Rohit Sharma showed maturity during his tempered innings, eschewing stroke play for deft
placements. He remained unbeaten with 69.
Opener Gautam Gambhir (23) was the first Indian batsman to perish. Venturing to pull Angelo Mathews, the left-hander
saw Suraj Randiv lunge to his right and pluck the ball out of the air at short square. An outstanding catch it was.
Hardly had India recovered from Gambhir's premature demise when Virat Kohli, batting at the pivotal number three
position, nibbled at a Maharoof delivery for Sangakkara to complete a regulation catch. He made 10 runs, registering his
third successive failure in the tournament.
And when Dinesh Karthik (40), making his ninth comeback in 45 ODIs, was gobbled up by Sangakkara off left-arm spinner Rangana Hearth, India were in deep trouble at 77 for three in 15.2 overs.
Suresh Raina (18) and Rohit defied the Lankan attack for a while before the former, attempting to sweep Herath, was
trapped in front of the wicket by the left-arm spinner.
Had it not been for the stubborn fourth wicket stand between Rohit and Dhoni, India could have been bowled out for
a total much lesser then they eventually made.