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Sri Lanka sing a Sanga song

Captain Kumar Sangakkara played his part admirably as the visitors snapped out of their losing streak, beating India by 29 runs in the first T20 match. Sri Lanka were pushed into a corner by the Test drubbing, but they shrugged that off admirably with Sangakkara leading by example, reports Vinod Kumar.

cricket Updated: Dec 10, 2009 00:40 IST
Vinod Kumar

For perhaps the first time on this trip to India, Kumar Sangakkara was a genuinely happy man. Sri Lanka's captain played his part admirably as the visitors snapped out of their losing streak, beating India by 29 runs in the first T20 match. Sri Lanka were pushed into a corner by the Test drubbing, but they shrugged that off admirably with Sangakkara leading by example.

In the course of the game, Sri Lanka didn’t put a foot wrong, reaping the benefits of doing the basics correctly. They kept their cool in pressure situations, fielded exceedingly well and at no stage pressed the panic button.

Sangakkara started his T20 campaign from where he left off in the Test series in Mumbai. The dashing left-hander clobbered a breathtaking 78 to set India a huge target of 216. His immaculate timing, which brought 11 four and two huge sixes, left fielders and bowlers struggling as each shot was played with minimum of risk.

India helped Sri Lanka with some sloppy fielding — Tillakaratne Dilshan, Sanath Jayasuriya and Sangakkara were all reprieved. The Sri Lankan innings did not get off to a particularly electric start as Dilshan and Jayasuriya gathered just 17 runs off the first four overs. India squandered an opportunity to see the back of the dangerous Jayasuriya when he was on 4, dropped by Yuvraj Singh at cover off Ishant. The new lease of life was all the 40-year-old demolition man needed and he showed his aggressive mindset in the very next over, blasting Ashish Nehra for five boundaries. When it appeared that the Sri Lankan openers would take the momentum away from India, Ashok Dinda, playing his first match, provided the breakthrough by getting rid of Jayasuriya with 43 on the board from 6.2 .

India's players broke into smiles seeing the back of Jayasuriya, but what happened next brought them back down to earth. Sangakkara joined Dilshan in the middle and the tempo of the innings never flagged. Sangakkara outscored even the ultra-aggressive Dilshan during their 74-run second-wicket partnership. Sri Lanka lost Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene in the space of nine runs, but Sangakkara continued the good work in the company of Chamara Kapugedera.

Chasing 216 was never easy. In response, Gautam Gambhir, led the charge, smashing 55 off 26 balls. But once he fell, the batsmen who followed failed to apply themselves. From there on, the outcome of the game was not in much doubt and India finished on 186 for 9.