Dhoni phobia continues as Sri Lanka hits
Daminda Wijesuriya reporting from Baroda
The new Indian mauler Mahendra Singh Dhoni lessened the elongated Sri Lankan suffering yesterday when he smashed a 79 ball 80 to see India to a five wicket win with 10.3 overs to spare as the Lankans hit a new low in international cricket to go down 6-1 at Baroda yesterday.

Sri Lanka finished a tour to forget but nothing to be taken away from the Indians as they played very high brand of cricket right throughout in the series.

Never troubled from the first ball, Indian charge was backed by equal contributions from batsmen and disciplined bowling. It looked like captain Rahul Dravid wanted to give as much as possible rest to his boys before their next series against South Africa and he sent hard hitting Irfan Pathan at number three, followed by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Pathan scored a swashbuckling 35 in 23 balls with two sixes and four hits to the ropes. Mahela Jayawardane ran towards the boundary from mid on to grab a splendid catch but Dhoni was there with his mighty willow.

The wicket keeper batsman had no mercy on Lankans as he hammered eight fours and three sixes like the boundary was at his feet. Skipper Dravid, who compiled a cultured 30 in 48 balls, ably supported Dhoni's power packed 79 ball innings of 80.

Earlier a record partnership of 133 runs for the sixth wicket by Marvan Atapattu and Russell Arnold guided Sri Lanka to score 244 for nine in 50 overs and it was a mixture of textbook and improvised strokes by those two seasoned campaigners at IPCL Stadium.

In a surprise move to open with Tilan Samaraweera, Sri Lanka took a shaky start as local boy, Irfan Pathan, bowling a madin over to Samaraweera. Runs were hard to come by and only 54 runs were scored after 15overs.

Opening pair was back in the pavilion in six overs but Mahela Jayawardane and Kumara Sangakkara added 57 runs to lift the score up to 77. Sangakkara and Jayawardane faced 97 balls for 57 runs but their patience for not to throw the wickets away proved vital in the latter stages of the innings. Jayawardane was caught again while trying to flick before Sangakkara got out to a frustrated shot.

The man in form faced 58 balls, sending five of them pass the rope, for his 32 but it was evident that he was looking more in the same number of balls.
R.P. Singh triggered a mini collapse in the 25th over before Arnold and Atapattu repair the damage with a record-breaking partnership for the 6th wicket. The previous record partnership for the sixth wicket worth 132, between Arjuna Ranatunga and Ruwan Kalpage at Hydrabad in 1993.

The skipper was rotating the strike while hitting the odd ball to boundary. Arnold was aggressive from the out set as he included five fours and two towering sixes to his half-century in 57 balls.

The right hand-left hand combination was there in the 45th over, with 204 runs on the board, but Harbajan Singh held two catches in consecutive balls from Pathan to get rid of both.

Atapattu sent five balls to the boundary rope before pulling Pathan in his 66th and the ball went down the throat of Harbajan at deep square leg. In the next ball, Arnold chased wide out side the off stump for a slashing drive and Harbajan was there. The left hander walked back to the pavilion after facing the same number of balls that is marked on his ODI shirt for 68 with seven fours and two sixes.


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