When they landed in Kingston two weeks ago,this was a situation that the Indians were unlikely to have imagined themselves to be in,especially considering their run to the ICC Champions Trophy crown. They have to win their final league encounter and that too by a significant margin to get into a final of a tri-series pitting them against two teams ranked significantly below them.
But if theres one team that the world champions dont mind meeting in a crunch match,they would pick Sri Lanka any day despite the fact that the same team pummelled them into submission in their previous league match. Kingston wasnt the first time that Sri Lanka had stolen a win over India in a league encounter of a multi-nation tournament.
You just have to look at the last two years to realise that the Lankans,if anything,have suffered the proverbial choke whenever they have met India at the business end of a tournament. And their questionable nerves when under the pump against India have only been accentuated by the simple fact that they have been in the situation so often. Take the World Cup final for example. Or Virat Kohlis explosive century at Hobart in a match where India were in a desperate situation,needing to chase down 321 in 40 overs to enhance their net run-rate. The result was the same when the two met in the semifinals of the Champions Trophy just a few weeks ago,with the Lankans coming up short yet again despite having beaten England and Australia in the preliminary stages.
For the first time in many decades,Sri Lanka have players with more ODI experience than their counterparts. And both Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara have already stamped their class on the tri-series with characteristically gritty yet classy knocks. If not anyone else,the duo will be desperate to set the record straight. For a win for Sri Lanka will knock out the Indians,and the onus will be on the Sri Lankan bowlers to reproduce their impressive showing against the Indians at Sabina Park,where they not only managed to keep the in-form top-order quiet but also ran through them. Theyll also want more runs from the lower order,which has been short on runs.
The Indians have faced a similar situation with their middle-order in the Caribbean. While Shikhar Dhawan has continued his fluent form,India will expect more from Rohit Sharma,whos been surprisingly sedate with the bat,and also the likes of Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik. But such has been their dominance over their perennial opponents in matches that matter that Kohli & Co will still go in buzzing with confidence despite their precarious position.
Kumar Sangakkara cracked a battling unbeaten 95-ball 90 as Sri Lanka posted 219 for eight against West Indies in their rain-interrupted crucial one-day international in the tri-series on Monday. Sangakkara blasted six fours and one six in his 76th half-century to anchor the Sri Lankan innings.
A series of interruptions reduced the game to a 41-over a side affair today but Sangakkara ensured that Sri Lanka have a good score on board as he set the foundation early on and then accelerated in the end,despite losing partners at regular intervals. Pacer Kemar Roach (4 for 27) was the peak of West Indies bowlers. Jason Holder (2 for 50),Marlon Samuels (1 for 48) and Kieron Pollard (1 for 24) also got wickets but they were expensive in the end.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 219/8 in 41 overs (K Sangakkara 90*,A Mathews 30; K Roach 4/27,J Holder 2/50) vs West Indies