Sri Lanka rode a brilliant 18th ODI century from Kumar Sangakkara to win the fourth match of the Asia cup against India by two wickets in Fatullah, Bangladesh on Friday. They chased down 265 with four balls to spare.
The foundation was laid by openers Perera (63) and Lahiru Thirimanne (38) who put up a first wicket stand of 80. The Indian bowling did not trouble them at all. Ashwin got the breakthrough at last, trapping Thirimane LBW but the islanders were still firmly in control.
The second wicket partnership, between Perera and Kumar Sangakkara (103) was also worth 53 runs. Ashwin got the other breakthrough as well, inducing Perera to edge one to Karthik behind the stumps. But the spinner will not be celebrating his 100th scalp.
At that point, back to back strikes from Ravindra Jadeja helped India claw back into the game. The first to go was Jayawardene, who drove it down the throat of Rohit Sharma at extra cover. On the next ball, Dinesh Chandimal failed to judge a ball that pitched on middle and jagged away, ruffling his stumps.
The dual strike got the vigour back into the team. While Jadeja kept up the pressure on one end with his relentless line and length, Virat Kohli showed he could think on his feet as a captain and brought Mohammed Shami back into the attack. Shami had been profligate in his first two spells but in this one, the results showed immediately. He had Angelo Mathews LBW on the second ball.
But Sangakkara battled on, even as wickets tumbled at the other end. Shami finally got him, when he slashed a high full toss to short third man. By then Sri Lanka needed only seven to win off nine balls.
India were let down by familiar demons: inconsistent bowling, lack of a genuine death over bowler and sloppy feilding.
There was one chance in the fourth over when Kusal Perera skied it. Shikhar Dhawan was the man coming in to get under it, Ajinkya Rahane was racing back from the circle. They collided and the ball trickled down to the boundary.
Perera got another reprieve when Ravindra Jadeja grassed a catch off Stuart Binny. He had reached the ball on time but had dived on his elbows, losing his grip.
India's sloppy feilding continued with Dinesh Karthik missing a sure stumping chance. Sangakkara was way out of his crease, having failed to play the Ashwin delivery but Karthik missed the stumps as he lunged for them after collecting the ball.
While they were batting, India started badly, losing Rohit Sharma (13) cheaply. He stepped down the pitch, but missed the line of a Sachithra Senanayake delivery which hit him on the pads. Though he felt that was reason to give him the benefit of the doubt, the umpire was sure enough to give him LBW.
Virat Kohli (48) then joined Dhawan. The duo brought up a partnership of 97 in 103 balls. They played sensible cricket, taking quick singles to keep the scoreboard ticking, while punishing the odd bad ball.
India was looking pretty solid at that point but then Kohli fell when Ajantha Mendis' carrom ball pitched on the middle and moved slightly away from the right hander to ruffle his off stump.
Ajinkya Rahane (22), who gave a sparkling performance in India's last match, made sure the momentum did not dip. His 45-run partnership with Dhawan kept things bright for India. He was playing sensibly but in an attempt to up the ante, ended up giving a catch to backward point off a Senanayake delivery.
Dhawan battled on, inching closer to his century but fell six runs short. He tried to cut a straighter and slower ball from Mendis which crashed into the stumps. Mendis put India in more trouble by removing Dinesh Karthik two balls later. Karthik too misjudged a carrom ball and gave an easy catch to mid-off.
Things quickly went downhill from there and it looked like India would not cross 250. The spinners made regular inroads, with Mendis (4/60) and Senanayake (3/41) being the wreckers in chief.
A late flourish from Mohammed Shami, who hit two back to back sixes off Mendis, and Ravidra Jadeja saw India get to a decent score. Sri Lanka now need 265 to win at 5.3 runs per over.
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