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Sri Lanka end India's winning streak

Tillakaratne Dilshan top-scored with a solid 97 as Sri Lanka prevented an Indian clean sweep with an emphatic 68-run win in the fifth and final one-day international in Colombo on Sunday, reports Nilankur Das. Full Scorecard

cricket Updated: Feb 09, 2009 01:01 IST
Nilankur Das

It was difficult to imagine that this was the same Sri Lanka side that had meekly lost four successive matches in the series. But already half-baked by the Sunday sun when asked to field first, the Indians suffered from further fatigue in the first session, something that affected the chase and brought to the fore how important winning the toss in such conditions is.

The heat and humidity took its toll on the Indian fielding just as it had done in Dambulla, but unlike in the opening ODI, where India easily chased down a target close to 250, a 321-run target to register an unprecedented 10th ODI win on the trot proved beyond them. This 68-run loss, coupled with Australia's win over New Zealand on Sunday, ensure that India slip back into third position in the ICC ODI rankings table, below South Africa and Australia.

Having rested Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan and Pragyan Ojha, Mahendra Singh Dhoni banked on Irfan Pathan. However, the task of filling Zaheer's huge shoes, that too in a day game, was a bridge too far for Irfan. With Ishant Sharma straying in line quite often, the Sri Lanka batsmen got on top early. Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan set the platform for a massive score with fluent innings of 84 and 97 respectively.

At one stage, the hosts were coasting at 209 for two in the 33rd over when Yuvraj got India the much-needed breakthrough by snaring the dangerous Sangakkara.

Then India clawed back by claiming four Lankan wickets in the space of five deliveries. When Ishant bowled Thilina Kandamby through the gate and Dilshan, Chamara Kapugedera, and skipper Mahela Jayawardene followed quickly, Sri Lanka for a brief moment, resembled the side that had been taken apart in the series by India.

However, a breezy 32 by Farveez Maharoof propelled Lanka to an imposing 320 for wight.

Losing Virender Sehwag immediately after the first boundary of the chase was a setback India never really recovered from despite another flamboyant innings by Yuvraj Singh. Dhoni himself hung on for a while but having lost too many wickets too early, and Yuvraj soon after, he had to go for the big ones to help take pressure off Jadeja. He perished during this endeavour.

On a bright note, Jadeja's debut was sparkling. The Saurashtra all-rounder got his eye in and struck some compact shots towards the end. The left-hander took the opportunity to make a noticeable mark before India embark on a long tour of New Zealand.

Earlier, Lakshmipathy Balaji bowled a few good deliveries but on the whole, had an ordinary comeback.

Jadeja looked slightly shaky initially in the field and dropped a straightforward catch of Sanath Jayasuriya at point, but he did not bowl too badly in the face of a superb batting display by Sangakkara and Dilshan.