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Lanka halt India's winning streak

Dilshan and Arnold steered Sri Lanka to five-wicket victory in the fifth ODI, writes Akshay Sawai. Full Scorecard

india Updated: Nov 07, 2005 13:24 IST

A record sixth-wicket partnership of 131 in 106 balls between Tillekeratne Dilshan and Russel Arnold oared Sri Lanka to its first victory in the Videocon Cup against India here on Sunday. Sri Lanka, chasing 286, won by five wickets and with 13 balls to spare.

Dilshan was the hero for the Lankans with 81 not out (67b, 8x4). His able ally was Arnold, who returned with 49 not out (47b, 4x4). Dilshan, who also bowled three overs, was named man of the match.

Their stand is the best for the sixth wicket at the Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium, venue of the match.

The previous record was held by Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Bangar, who added 94 against the West Indies in 2002-3.

Sri Lanka looked done when skipper Marvan Atapattu, who put India in after winning the toss, and deputy Mahela Jayawardene got out in the 28th and 30th overs, respectively. But for once in this series, Lanka's famous tail showed its strength.

For the hosts, opener Gautam Gambhir, coming in for the rested Sachin Tendulkar, and inspirational captain Rahul Dravid scored 103 each, the difference being Dravid's effort was unbeaten.

Tendulkar apart, India rested Irfan Pathan and Harbhajan Singh. RP Singh and Murali Kartik took their place.

For Sri Lanka, Jayawardene returned to the side after a one-match break for his marriage. Farveez Maharoof served as super sub, a role performed by Tilan Samaraweera in the last match in Pune.

Atapattu and Jayawardene put on 70 for the fourth wicket in 67 balls before the former, attempting to turn left-arm spinner Kartik, top-edged a return catch. Then Jayawardene was run out by a direct throw from super-sub JP Yadav at short fine-leg.

Except for wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara (39, 69b, 5x4), Sri Lanka's top-order batsmen could not do much against the India’s frontline bowling of Ajit Agarkar and RP Singh. Not even on a batsman-compatible pitch.

Agarkar, man of the match in Pune, got Jayasuriya to edge to Venugopal Rao in the slips for 8. He also sent back Upul Tharanga, whose grip on the bat loosened, causing him to sky it high and shallow for stand-in captain Virender Sehwag (Dravid retired due to cramps after nine overs) to run left from mid-on and take. RP Singh, playing his second one-dayer, then got rid of Sangakkara, Rao taking a now-I-have-it-now-I-don't fumbler in the slips.

Earlier, Gambhir made up for Tendulkar's absence. Rarely threatened by the Sri Lankan attack, the 24-year-old Delhi left-hander cut and pulled his way to a zesty ton as India finished with 285 for 8 from 50 overs.

After Gambhir, Dravid attained centurydom. In the hazy light characteristic of floodlit sport in the subcontinent, Dravid pulled Dilhara Fernando for four in the final over of the Indian innings to reach his 11th ODI century and reinforce himself as the torchbearer of Indian cricket's renaissance.

Gambhir, who some feel has not received as many chances in limited-overs cricket as he deserves (this was his sixth ODI since his debut in April 2003), has gotten out in the slippery nineties twice in Test cricket.

On Sunday, he did not want to miss out on another century, and opted to safely tuck away Arnold for a single in the 35 th over to reach 100. It was his highest score in one-day cricket. His previous best was 71 against Bangladesh.

Gambhir was in business from the first over. He got off the mark running three off Chaminda Vaas, then cut and off-drove an ineffective Fernando (10-0-77-1) for boundaries.

Fernando's over, the second of the innings, cost 13 runs. Atapattu pulled him off and installed left-arm seamer Nuwan Zoysa. But an unfazed India continued to fire away, reaching 43 from five overs without loss. But in the eighth over, Sri Lanka hit oil.

Zoysa razed Virender Sehwag's stumps as the latter went for a slog and missed yet another opportunity to post a big score. Then he trapped the in-touch Mahendra Singh Dhoni leg before the very next ball. When the umpire raised his finger after Zoysa's desperate appeal, the bowler put his finger to lip, signalling the packed stands to quieten. He didn't need to. They were stunned anyway.
Sri Lanka, whose fielding bordered on the comical, could not do much about the run rate. Even after losing two wickets, India were moving quick. At the end of ten overs, the hosts were 58 for 2. But then Lanka nailed Yuvraj Singh (caught Jayawardene off Vaas, India 69 for 3) and their comeback seemed complete.
But Gambhir, milking the power-play, which Sri Lanka (and India too) used without break (overs 1-10, 11-15, 16-20), did not stop playing strokes. The presence of the solid Dravid at the other end must have been inspiring and reassuring as he went about punishing Sri Lanka with decisive, composed strokes.

First Published: Nov 06, 2005 14:23 IST