Sri Lanka outplay and outclass India
By Bernie Wijesekera
Sri Lanka skipper Malintha Gajanayake's gamble of winning the toss and inviting India to take first lease of moisture-laden pitch paid dividends. The pace trio of Tharanga Lakshitha (2 for 19), Nuwan Kulasekera (2 for 21) and first change bowler Lasitha Malinga (4 for 16 in 7.1 overs) wrought havoc and bowled out India for 136 on the opening match of the Videcon Asian Emerging teams 50-over match played yesterday at the R. Premadasa Stadium.

Opening bowler Lakshitha and Kulasekera exploiting the conditions and moving the ball beautifully had the Indian top order in a state of confusion, losing three wickets for two runs. Lakshitha bowled with fire in his first over third ball and had Mane caught behind off a lifting delivery for O. Kulasekera to inflict a double blow in his first ball in his initial over.

Indian skipper Gambhir got out in identical fashion, caught behind for one. In the next delivery he had Bisla trapped in front for a duck - 3 for 2. In ideal conditions, later joined Lasitha Malinga from the pavilion end, he had the Indian batsmen prodding and groping. But determined batting from Sivaramakrishnan and A.T. Rayudhu brought forth respectability to the total.

Both batsmen batted resolutely and put on 57 runs for the fourth wicket. Sivaramakrishnan batted with assurance but was lured by left-arm spinner Dhammika and fell for 25 (made in 90 balls with two fours). Lasitha Malinga, the lad from Galle, moved the ball awkwardly and had the lower order in total disarray. He had Rayudhu well held by Paranawitharane for 34 (in 64 balls with three fours). Shukla's gate opened for a 'duck' next - two wickets for four runs. At the half way mark when 25 overs were completed, India lost another wicket and they were 79 for seven.

But fine rearguard action by wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik who made 42 ( in 54 balls, with a six off Jeevan Mendis) with Lahiru added 46 runs for a stubborn eighth wicket. Finally India was bowled out for 136 runs in 40.1 overs just before lunch. Malinga (4 for 16 in 7.1 overs, he was the Man of the Match), proved to be most economical.
Sri Lanka opening with two left-handers in Tharanga Paranawitharane and Upul Tharanga, were 16 for no loss at lunch.

Resuming their innings, the pair batted with confidence in improved conditions against the varied Indian attack. Nimble-footed Upul Tharanga, batted aggressively and attractively. He completed a fine 50 (made in 76 balls with six fours). While Paranawitharane, sound in defence, stroked the ball confidently, to make a workmanlike 54 n.o, made in 99 balls with four fours. The opening pair put on 117 runs. Eventually Sri Lanka made 137 for 1 in 32.2 overs. Extras aided and abetted with 24 runs.

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