Big 3 flop, laid low at the Gabba again

Lack of application India's top batsmen succumb under the weight of Sri Lankan total to lose by 51 runs; slip to bottom of the points table. Amol Karhadkar reports. Scorecard | Down Under: Viru's shots weren't that hot | The story so far

india Updated: Feb 22, 2012 01:37 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
Brisbane,Australia,Sri Lanka

The opposition was different. The captain was changed. The team had a different look, with three changes after Sunday's defeat against Australia. With just as many seats occupied as the number of empty seats on Sunday, The Gabba wore an entirely different look. For the first time in the CB series, the senior top order trio was out on the park together.

Despite so many changes, the fortunes of the Men in Blue stayed the same as India went down to Sri Lanka by 51 runs to be shunted from the top to the bottom of the points standings in 48 hours.

The saving grace for India was they didn't concede the bonus point, which kept them alive in the tournament.

With Dhoni banned for the game after the team's slow over-rate against Australia on Sunday, India were forced to field all the three openers - Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir. It meant Rohit Sharma, who failed to cash in on any of his five opportunities, had to sit out.

The Indian bowlers - Zaheer Khan was ruled out due to a strained calf - could neither start well nor end the innings on a high. As a result, Sri Lanka put on a big total, one more than Australia's total of 288 two days ago.

Opening start
Once Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan had given them a 95-run opening stand, with the latter targeting youngster Umesh Yadav, the middle order made the most of the platform. Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne ensured the scoring rate never slowed in the middle over.

And Angelo Mathews' late flourish, aided by stand-in captain Sehwag's inexplicable decision to ask Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli to bowl the last two overs of the innings, meant Sri Lanka looked set to keep their juggernaut rolling at the halfway mark.

Though R Ashwin 'mankading' Thirimanne and the team deciding to withdraw the appeal raised the temperature, it subsided as quickly as fears of a storm at The Gabba in the afternoon.

Always behind
With a daunting target to chase, the top three had to come good. But with Sehwag perishing as soon as the chase started, chasing a wide delivery to offer catching practice to Nuwan Kulasekara at deep third man, and Tendulkar and Gambhir not converting their starts, India were always playing the chasing game.

As a result, Virat Kohli's sturdy 66, which included two lives due to dropped catches by Dinesh Chandimal at deep mid-wicket, and his 92-run stand for the fourth wicket with Suresh Raina, who again gave his wicket away after looking set for a big knock, was always going to be inadequate.

When Kohli eventually holed out to mid-on in the 36th over, India were in danger of conceding the bonus point for the second successive game.

However, Irfan Pathan's late flourish helped them cross the 232-run mark and allow Sri Lanka only four points from the game. In fact, such was Irfan's form with the willow that had any of the late-order batsmen hung around with him, he would have certainly taken India closer to victory.

First Published: Feb 21, 2012 08:43 IST