Homeboy Yuvraj Singh made his 28th birthday memorable for India, fetching them a long-awaited win in the format they were once world champions in. His unbeaten innings of 60, in 25 balls with three fours and five sixes, led to a Saturday evening show that ensured India successfully chase the highest score ever in a T20 international.
As India got past Sri Lanka’s imposing total of 206 for seven, they squared the two-match series 1-1. India had lost all three Super8 matches in the World Cup last June and again in Nagpur earlier this week, meaning that this victory comes after nearly six months.
India needed a start and who better than Virender Sehwag to provide it. Dropped on 18, Sehwag bludgeoned his way to 64 (36 balls, 4x7, 6x3). He built the platform and Yuvraj Singh, with skipper MS Dhoni being an able accomplice, didn't need a second invitation.
Needing 86 runs from 48 balls, Yuvraj tilted the game in India's favour by hitting Kaushalya Weeraratne for two sixes and a four in the 13th over and scored 23 runs in the 16th over, bowled by Nuwan Kulasekara. Appropriately, the winning runs came from his broad bat and it was a six off Angelo Mathews.
This was after skipper Kumar Sangakkara's swashbuckling 59, studded with eight boundaries and two huge sixes. Again, the islanders benefited from poor fielding with India putting down five catches.
Before the start of the T20 series, Sangakkara had backed Sanath Jayasuriya and on Saturday, the 40-year-old repaid the faith, scoring a brisk 31. Despite losing dasher Tillakaratne Dilshan early, castled by Ishant Sharma, Sri Lanka moved along breezily with Jayasuriya and Sangakkara adding 50 runs in just 21 balls.
Sangakkara, dropped by Ravindra Jadeja on 32, hit Ishant for a boundary off the first ball he faced. Ishant was hit was hit for three consecutive fours in his next over, but it was Ashish Nehra who got the worst treatment when Jayasuriya hit him for three fours and one six in the fourth over.
Yusuf Pathan ended the partnership by trapping Jayasuriya in front of the stumps. Sangakkara then brought up his half-century hitting Yuvraj for a six . Yuvraj though got his man off the over's last ball. The visitors lost their way somewhat thereafter but Chinthaka Jayasinghe’s scorching 38 (28 balls) and Mathews’s 26 steered them past 200-run mark.