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Monday, 3 March 2014

Report: India vs Sri Lanka – Asia Cup 2014


In what was a close encounter between the familiar adversaries, Sri Lanka emerged victorious by two wickets, owing to a brilliant century from Kumar Sangakkara. Chasing 265, the Lankans got home with four balls to spare. (Also Read: Stats Highlights: India vs Sri Lanka – Asia Cup 2014)

Needing 44 overs in the last five overs, it was up to Kumar Sangakkara to take Sri Lanka home. With Thisara Perera for company, the elegant left-hander milked singles and stole the occasional boundary. When he smacked Mohammad Shami for a six off the first ball of the 47th over, the pressure was relieved. A guide down the third man and an edged yorker in Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s next over all but sealed the deal for Sri Lanka. The century was brought up with a flick (and a misfield by Dhawan at boundary) and off the next ball he was dismissed by Shami, caught by Ashwin. However, it was too late for India. 

Before Sangakkara’s onslaught, the Lankans enjoyed more than their fair share of luck.

A huge lbw appeal from Bhuvneshwar in the first over turned down, a catch gone down in the fourth over due to a collision between two fielders (Rahane and Dhawan) and the ball falling just out of Jadeja’s reach in the sixth – Sri Lanka’s chase got off to a fortuitous start.

Throw in the inside-edges running off to the boundary and a few not carrying to the keeper and it was fair to say that the Lankan openers were living a charmed life. The all those lucky runs compounded by a few hit-me balls from the Indians meant Sri Lanka amassed 51 runs in the first 10 overs without loss. India were 37 for 1 at the same stage. In the 17th over, Jadeja dropped another one.

Kusal Perera and Lahiru Thirimanne (38) rode on their luck for a while until R Ashwin got the latter lbw. Perera, on the other hand, went on to score a fifty. He and Kumar Sangakkara put up 54 runs, also bringing up the 100 of the Lankan innings, before Ashwin removed Perera to get his 100th ODI wicket.

A while later Dinesh Karthik fluffed a chance to stump Sangakkara, when the batsman was on 30. He and Mahela Jayawardene threatened to bat India out of the match with a partnership typical of the veteran duo. 

India needed a tremendous turnaround and Jadeja provided it by dismissing Jayawardene (caught at extra-cover) and Dinesh Chandimal (bowled) off consecutive balls. He later returned to wrap Chaturanga de Silva lbw to finish with 10-1-30-3. 

Despite the wickets, Sangakkara ensured Sri Lanka never lost touch of their asking rate. He kept sending the ball to the fence at regular intervals, against the pacers and part-time spinners alike.

Earlier in the day, put in to bat first, India’s lower order failed to capitalize on the platform provided by Shikhar Dhawan’s 94 to finish at least 20 runs short of what they looked like achieving at one point.

After being tied down in the first three overs, the two Indian openers took contrasting ways. While Rohit Sharma struggled to move his feet and get in the line of the ball against the outside-off deliveries from the pacers, Shikhar Dhawan fetched three fours through the square off the backfoot. Rohit eventually succumbed to the variable bounce, being adjudged lbw off a Sachithra Senanayake ball that kept low.

Then was the time for the unison of two Delhi lads in the middle. Shikhar was joined by Virat Kohli and the duo operated like a well-oiled machine. The strike was rotated with ease and some gorgeous shots were pulled out occasionally. The wicket had slowed down considerably and the two attacking batsmen constructed their innings accordingly.

After a flurry of fours on the off-side, Shikhar got a couple of them wit flicks and a six with a pull. He brought up his fifty in 68 balls. Virat was heavy on the on-side with the exception of an exquisite cover drive. However, his innings ended on 48 when a perfect carom ball from Ajantha Mendis took off the top of his off-stump.

After his partnership with Virat ended for 97 runs, Shikhar kept his guard and put 45 runs with Ajinkya Rahane. The latter batted cautiously against the Lankan spinners for his 22 before mistiming an inside-out drive to the man at extra cover. Shikhar, who had batted with calmness and responsibility, fell victim to Mendis. His instinct to handle the spinners with a crossed bat did him in again as Mendis slipped in a quicker one and bowled him out.

Shikhar’s wicket in the 40th over triggered a collapse. Dinesh Karthik got out in the same over, giving Mendis his third wicket before Ambati Rayudu and Stuart Binny followed him back in quick succession. R Ashwin scored a quick 18 before being Lasith Malinga’s only scalp.

Mendis was the most successful Lankan bowler, returning figures of 4 for 60 in his 10 overs while Sachithra Senanayake took three wickets for 41. With wickets falling aplenty in the end, Mohammad Shami took India to 264 with two heaves over the fence in the penultimate over, off Mendis.

Man of the Match: Kumar Sangakkara for his match-winning 103 off 84 balls.
  • Mathews: "I thought we bowled pretty well to restrict them to 268. It's magnificent to watch the champion (Sangakkara) bat. Mendis is a trump card. The spinners bowled pretty well and I am glad for them."

  • Kohli: "I think the bowlers did a good job, especially with the dew in the last 10 overs. They did a good job to take it to the last 10 overs. We could have been smarter with the way we approach our batting. We could have got 20-30 more runs. Jadeja was magnificent with the ball. We have to play smarter cricket against Pakistan."

  • source: bcci.tv

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