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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Cricket

India go off the boil, up against onerous task
Somshuvra Laha, Hindustan Times
Kingston, July 04, 2013
First Published: 01:13 IST(4/7/2013)
Last Updated: 10:32 IST(4/7/2013)

High-flying India were pulled down by Sri Lanka as they lost by a 161-run margin in a one-sided match at the Sabina Park on Tuesday.

More than the defeat, it was the way Sri Lanka went about decimating India to get a bonus point. Both Mahela Jayawardene and Upul Tharanga scored centuries. The latter, in fact, went one up on Jayawardene and posted 174, his highest individual score, to set a total that India looked to have the firepower to overhaul.

But a few tactical errors saw India struggling to keep up with the ever-soaring asking rate, and by the time the sixth wicket had fallen, with the team score not even past the 150-run mark, the result was a foregone conclusion.

Job cut out
With two back-to-back defeats, India now have their job cut out and have to win the remaining two league matches in Port of Spain and hope the West Indies beat Sri Lanka.

Stand-in skipper Virat Kohli termed the loss as a reality check and insisted that it was a day that had to be forgotten as quickly as possible. India would desperately hope to do that as Tuesday's performance reflected poorly on the Champions Trophy winners.

The fielding looked pedestrian as catches were dropped and Sri Lanka were allowed to go on a romp by the India bowlers, who sprayed the ball around.

The 213-run opening stand set up Sri Lanka for a final assault by Angelo Mathews and Tharanga. The last 16 overs saw 180 runs being scored.

Virat admitted the team had gone off the boil. "It was a tough day at office. We were not up to the mark with the ball," he said. "The Sri Lankans batted really well, and we did not. To chase down 349, you need a quick start, we were not able to do that, that did not give us momentum."

With no MS Dhoni in the middle order, India needed a different approach while chasing. But they got off to a slow start and lost openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan quickly.

The decision to include Murali Vijay, playing an ODI after almost two years, proved costly as he took a long time to settle down and that increased the pressure on the other batsman. "We wanted to give a guy who has not played for a while a good chance. Suddenly putting him (Vijay) at five or six would have been very difficult for him. Unfortunately the plans didn't work," said Virat.


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