The Sri Lanka batting was a lot depleted by the absence of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Chamara Silva. After staying away for two days, the sun was finally out and the dew was not as terrible as it was on Monday.
Still India were done in, it seems, by an urgency to set such a target that would be beyond Sri Lanka, irrespective of the amount of dew. That and a maiden five-wicket haul by Chanaka Welegedara, a well-paced unbeaten century by Thilan Samaraweera and a blinder at the death by rookie all-rounder Thissara Perera combined to record a five-wicket win for Sri Lanka, a big step towards the final on January 13.
As predicted, with the hosts not being part of Tuesday’s fixture, the crowd stayed away from cricket at the Sher-e Bangla National Stadium. The turnout was less than 5000 when Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir walked out to bat after skipper MS Dhoni lost the all-important toss.
The unfriendly conditions awaiting the bowlers in the evening must have prompted a feeling of restlessness in the Indian top order. Gambhir and Virat Kohli went back in a hurry. Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, back after missing matches at Eden and the abandoned one in Delhi due to injury, tried to consolidate. But anything less than a run-a-ball should not be difficult to chase down given the conditions.
Utilising a slight hint of grass on the wicket and capitalising on some poor shot selection by some of the Indian batsmen, Welegedara got on top. While Gambhir tried to swing at one of his in-swinging yorkers to left-handers and was bowled, Suresh Raina spotted a similar one rather late to lose his stumps.
A chase of less than a-run-a-ball in such conditions was never going to be difficult but some smart bowling by Indian slow bowlers dragged the inevitable. When skipper Kumar Sangakkara threw his wicket away exposing a dodgy middle-order depending on the inconsistent Thilina Kandamby, it seemed Sri Lanka would choke. They didn’t thanks mainly to a risk-free almost run-a-ball ton by Samaraweera.
As the gap between the runs and balls left started to widen when Kandamby and Suraj Randiv fell, Perera’s flurry of piercing shots through the off-side getting him a 15-ball 36 gave Sri Lanka their second victory.
Dilshan out with a groin injury he suffered while batting on Monday went for a scan on Tuesday morning. The report is awaited. On Tuesday, Lanka lost M Pushpakumara due to a shoulder injury while fielding.