The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

India take 2-1 lead in nail biting finish

Sri Lanka - India 3rd ODI

Gautham Gambhir made 102.

Opener Gautam Gambhir who continued his good work with the bat and Virat Kohli laid the foundation for India’s five wicket victory when the pair put together a partnership of 105 runs in even time helping them to overhaul the formidable target of 287 set by Sri Lanka when they made 288 for 5 which they achieved with two balls to spare. This was in the third ODI at the R. Premadasa Stadium yesterday to lead 2-1 in the five match series. This was also the first occasion that any team has successfully chased a 250 – plus target against Sri Lanka at this venue.

After Gambhir and Kohli laid the foundation it was Suresh Raina and Irfan Pathan who together saw the Indians through with the pair being associated in an unbroken stand of 92 runs in 67 balls for the sixth wicket with Raina remaining unbeaten on 65 from 45 balls which included six boundaries and a six. Pathan chipped in with a 31 ball knock of 34 with three boundaries

Sri Lanka had high hopes when they came back into the game with India cruising on 180 for 2 in the 35th over before Lasith Malinga dealt a double when he grabbed two wickets in two balls – that of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rohit Sharma. Even though Gambhir followed a little later being run out having made an almost a run a ball 102, the Sri Lanka bowlers had little success following Gambhir’s dismissal. Gambhir’s knock comprised ten boundaries.

This was after Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardena, winning the toss and electing to take first lease of the wicket at which stage the home team was struggling at 20 for 3 in the ninth over. They however recovered to make 286 for 5 through two useful partnerships coming in the latter part of the innings.

The first being a 121 runs stand for the fourth wicket between skipper Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara and the other an unbroken 104 runs stand for the sixth between  Angelo Mathews and Jeewan Mendis who justified his selection. Mathews was severe as he slammed a quick fire 71 in just 57 balls that included five boundaries and a six with Mendis giving him the much needed support to remain unbeaten on 45 from 40 balls which had three boundaries and a six. Their 104 runs partnership was made in just 73 balls.
Skipper Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara came to the rescue of Sri Lanka after having lost three quick wickets with only 20 on the board. This was after skipper Jayawardena who won the toss for the first time in the five match limited over series and deciding to take first lease of the wicket. In fact the decision by Jayawardena surprised most as recent records show that the team batting the second time have come out victorious.

The two teams went into the game effecting changes from the previous two matches with India bringing in two replacements leg spinner. Rahul Sharma who was recently in the news having tested positive for recreational drugs and Ashok Dinda for Pragyan Ojha and Umesh Yadav and for Sri Lanka Jeewan Mendis coming in in place for Lahiru Thirimanne.

Irfan Pathan and Suresh Raina walk back to the pavilion after defeating Sri Lanka. - Pix by Amila Gamage

Jayawardena and Sangakkara began the rescue act on a pitch that was helping bounce and movement. The pair used their experience to the hilt with neither of them taking any risks or being bogged down. Sangakkara was the more aggressive of the two at the beginning before Jayawardena who was more cautious came back to take things under control.

The duo raced to the 50 runs stand in even time which came off just 60 balls and in the process Jayawardena was the first to reach the half ton which was 68th half ton that came off 65 balls inclusive of four boundaries. The duo put up the Sri Lanka’s 100 runs on the board in the 22nd over before Sangakkara raced to his fifty off a single of Rahul Sharma which came in 67 balls with three boundaries which was his 73rd of his career.

With Sangakkara reaching his half ton Sharma separated the pair having Jayawaredena trapped on the backfoot which had the ball pitching in between the middle and leg stump. Jayawardena’s match saving knock of 65 which had five boundaries came to an end having put on a valuable 121 runs for the fourth wicket. Sangakkara joined by Angleo Mathews continued to frustrate the Indian bowlers.

The pair added 41 runs before they were separated with the dismissal of Sangakkara who lost his patience swinging to a wide delivery of right arm pacie Ashok Dinda but succeeded in only lofting a simple catch to Virat Kohli having made a fine knock of 73 in 95 balls that included five boundaries.

Earlier in the day the Indian pacies Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan had the Sri Lankan openers Upul Tharanga and T.M. Dilshan bogged down especially the latter was a bit uncomfortable. The two left arm pacie gave the pair some anxious moments and in the process Khan made the first break through dismissing Dilshan who in fact was not sure what took place. Khan dealt a double blow when he sent back an unsteady Upul Tharanga while Irfan Pathan got the prize wicket of Dinesh Chandimal to have Sri Lanka back to the wall on 20 for 3.
The two teams will meet in the fourth ODI scheduled to be played on July 31 at the same venue.

Sanga fractures finger
Sri Lanka middle-order batsman Kumar Sangakkara has been ruled out of action for four to six weeks after fracturing his finger during the third ODI against India in Colombo yesterday. Sangakkara sustained the injury when he was hit by a bouncer off medium pace bowler Ashok Dinda while hitting a magnificent 73 off 95 balls.

Sangakkara was 24 when he experienced the blow during the 15th over. Sangakkara went on create a timely partnership of 121 runs for the fourth wicket with skipper Mahela Jayawardene after Sri Lanka slumped to 20 for three during their innings. Sangakkara was later caught at point by Virat Kohli of Dinda in the 38th over. Dinesh Chandimal kept wickets during the India innings on behalf of Sangakkara who was sent for a scan and confirmed the fracture.

He will miss the remaining two ODIs as well as the Twenty20 game. In addition the injury will make Sangakkara’s participation doubtful in the inaugural Sri Lanka Premier League competition which begins on August 11. Sangakkara is the skipper of the SLPL franchise Kandurata Warriors who will play their opening match on August 11 against Basnahira Cricket Dundee in Colombo.


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