Sri Lanka defeat India by 3 wkts
It never looked like Greg Chappell and India’s day.
The only thing that went their way in the Indian Oil tri-series opener at the Rangiri Stadium here on Saturday was the toss. Everything else, including the team’s national flag and the top batting order, went topsy-turvy, enabling Tom Moody’s Sri Lanka to breast the tape by three wickets.
Electing to bat, the Indian top order failed to apply itself and put up 205 for nine in their allotted 50 overs. Sri Lanka reached the target in 48.2 overs.
Despite knowing well that India needed responsible innings from them, the team’s experienced batsmen – with the exception of skipper Rahul Dravid and debutant Venugopal Rao – came up short.
On the other hand, the lower order Lankan batsmen showed character and gave their team a winning start in the tournament.
Sanath Jayasuriya, forced to bat down the order after injuring his right shoulder during the Indian innings, was named Man of the Match for his crucial, unbeaten 43.
Chasing 206 was never going to be easy for Sri Lanka. This was evident from the fact that only one century has so far been scored in Dambulla. That distinction is held by Dravid, who reached three figures against Bangladesh in the 2004 Asia Cup.
Irfan Pathan got into his rhythm right away but his partner, Zaheer Khan, struggled for length. He gave away as many as 18 runs in his first two overs before Irfan struck the first blow.
The in-form Kumar Sangakkara was trapped right in front of a delivery that came in late after pitching on the off stump.
A straight hit from square leg by Suresh Raina to dismiss Lankan skipper Marvan Atapattu threatened to take the match away from the hosts. But they had Jayasuriya waiting for his turn.
Moreover, India were fast exhausting the overs quota of their regular four bowlers. The absence of a regular fifth bowler proved costly for India as the makeshift offie, Virender Sehwag, proved costly. He surrendered 45 in his eight overs.
Yet, India were successful in cranking up pressure. And when Lanka were 172 for seven, it looked over for them. But Jayasuriya and newcomer Farveez Maharoof did not give up, selecting Sehwag for special treatment.
Their 37-run stand for the eighth wicket proved to be the difference between the two teams.
Suresh Raina had a forgettable debut. Not only did he get a first-ball duck, Sri Lanka’s winning boundary also came in his first over.
India’s ordeal started with Virender Sehwag, who, after hitting debutant speedster Dilhara Lokuhettige for 13 runs in the second over of the match, misread Maharoof's outswinger and was bowled for 14.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, too, failed to move his feet in time and gifted Lokuhettige his first wicket.
The small crowd of 10,000 in Rangiri Stadium was on its feet after Lanka’s roaring start. The wind was blowing strong and both Lankan pacers made the most of it. It was again left to skipper Dravid to summon the Mr Dependable in him. He didn't disappoint.
At the other end, wickets continued to fall. First it was Yuvraj Singh, who, unable to resist temptation, went for a pull to give Lokuhettige his second scalp. He made 12, but helped India get Jayasuriya off the field.
Trying to stop a Yuvraj on-drive, the Lankan captain fell awkwardly.
This came as a blow to the hosts as they missed Jayasuriya's bowling towards the end of the Indian innings.
Mohammed Kaif lasted only 12 balls while Raina was stranded by Muralitharan's ‘doosra’. One thing was common to all Indian batsmen. They looked rusty and were unable to move their feet. This was despite the fact that two of Lanka's experienced pace bowlers, Chaminda Vaas and Nuwan Zoysa, were not playing due to injury.
Sehwag b Maharoof - 14; Dhoni b Lokuhettige - 2; Yuvraj c sub b Lokuhettige - 12; Dravid b Chandana - 54; Kaif c Murali b Fernando - 8; Raina lbw b Murali - 0; Rao c Sangakkara b Murali - 38; Pathan c J’wardene b Murali - 21; Harbhajan not out - 20; Zaheer run out - 20; Nehra not out - 2; Extras (lb-6, nb-2, w-6) - 14
Total (9 wkts, 50 ovrs) - 205
Fall of wickets: 1-17, 2-22, 3-44, 4-63, 5-64, 6-122, 7-159, 8-159, 9-202.
Bowling: Maharoof 9-0-27-1, Lokuhettige 10-2-31-2, Fernando 10-1-61-1, Muralitharan 10-1-33-3, Chandana 5-0-26-1, Dilshan 3-0-14-0, Arnold 3-0-7-0.
Sangakkara lbw b Pathan - 14; Atapattu run out - 29; Jayawardene b Zaheer - 15; Dilshan lbw b Harbhajan - 17; Arnold b Harbhajan - 22; Jayasuriya not out - 43; Lokuhettige b Pathan - 21; Chandana c Dhoni b Zaheer - 11; Maharoof not out - 23; Extras (b-4, lb-3, w-7) - 14
Total (7 wickets, 48.2 overs) - 209
Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-55, 3-60, 4-104, 5-112, 6-140, 7-172.
Bowling: Pathan 10-2-43-2, Zaheer 10-1-32-2, Nehra 10-1-34-0, Harbhajan 10-0-44-2, Sehwag 8-0-45-0, Raina 0.2-0-4-0.
Result: Sri Lanka won by three wickets.
India: Rahul Dravid (capt), Virender Sehwag, Venkatsai Laxman, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Jai Prakash Yadav, Mahender Singh Dhoni, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Laxmipathy Balaji, Suresh Raina, Venugopala Rao.
Sri Lanka: Marvan Atapattu (capt), Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Russel Arnold, Upul Chandana, Fervez Maharoof, Muttiah Muralitharan, Nuwan Zoysa, Chaminda Vaas, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Upul Taranga, Dilhara Lokuhettige.
Umpires: Asoka de Silva (SRI) and Simon Taufel (AUS)
TV umpire: TH Wijewardene (SRI)
Match-referee: Mike Procter (RSA)
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