A couple of blazing knocks turned on the heat in the second one-day international between India and Sri Lanka at the R Premadasa Stadium on Saturday night,and the artificial lights cooked up a fascinating contest.
India got off the blocks in a hurry,and ran out of gas in the final stages. Sri Lanka seemed to have measured their chase,but left too much to be done in the end.
With 19 runs needed off the final over,Thilina Kandamby was left marooned at the crease with four balls to spare despite a superlative 93 as the hosts fell to a 15-run defeat at the end of a contest full of umpiring blunders and suicidal dismissals.
For the loss,Lanka had only themselves to blame though. Despite the experience in the batting order,Sri Lanka took an amateurish approach to chasing down the total of 256 and handed Ishant Sharma the Man of the Match trophy for picking up four wickets. It was more a match that Lanka lost than one that India won. At the end of the day,Sri Lanka were left to count only the moral positives,after skipper Mahela Jayawardene worked his back into form with his 49th ODI half-century to provide a semblance of a spine to the fragile middle-order.
Defending a reasonable total,India got off to fair start as the seamers burst the top-order open. But MS Dhoni would have missed the services of a quality spinner as Jayawardene and Kadamby put together a partnership of 100 runs for the fourth wicket only by rotating the strike and running well between the wickets.
But just when the pair seemed to have settled down,Jayawardene got out to a soft dismissal and the chase disintegrated therafter. It wasnt too different to what happened with the Indians earlier.
Yuvraj makes it count
Yuvraj Singh didnt have a great time when the Indian team travelled to Sri Lanka last time around,but on Saturday,he was concerned neither with the past,nor by the slowness of the track as he tailored a typical innings,as he top-scored with 66 off 88 balls. The innings came after an exciting start provided by opener Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir early on but their sudden departures,along with successive dismissals of Dhoni and Raina left India choked,to even playing out a maiden over inside the last powerplay.
Sehwag and Gambhir,after the early departure of Sachin Tendulkar to yet another dubious leg-before decision,spanked the new ball hard to raise the first 50 off just 46 balls.
Sehwag,who was taking the Lankan bowling attack apart,couldnt force himself on the fielders though,and a relay effort from Muralitharan,Jayasuriya and Thushara beat an attempted third run from a diving Sehwag.
India did put up a few partnerships but,despite Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan attempting to accelerate at the end,they lost momentum against Maharoofs slower deliveries and Mendiss tweakers in the death.
In the end though,the little mistakes didnt matter too much as India moved to within one win of taking the series.