Rajkot: The world saw one of the highest scoring thrillers of the ODI format with both India and Sri Lanka going past the 400-run mark. In the end, Dhoni’s men managed to clinch the cliff-hanger, winning it by three runs.
India’s best bowler of the day, Harbhajan Singh started the ball rolling in the host’s favour as he clean bowled Tilakratne Dilshan, Sri Lanka’s star of the day at a score of 160 runs. His fall brought down some jitters down the Lankan batting line-up as India seemed to regain their groove with two new batsmen on the crease. The result- Mahela Jayawardene got in the middle of a mix-up and was run out.
Dilshan was the chief nemesis of the hosts though, as he smashed his fourth ODI century off just 73 balls, making the run-chase more interesting and poised. He was given due support from Tharanga, who completed a quick-fire fifty too.
India had struck some luck as Upul Tharanga fell to Suresh Raina’s unorthodox bowling style. Dhoni had made a smart change, getting the part-time bowler to upset the combo that had whacked the regular bowlers all over the park. However, the fall of the first wicket did not reap rich dividends as constant bad fielding and dropped catches gave the Lankans full time to recover.
The battle of the willow seemed to be going in the favour of the visitors, but just then, Praveen Kumar pegged captain Kumar Sangakkara to bring back some life into the contest. The feat was followed-up by Harbhajan’s prized scalp of the most dangerous hitters of them all, Sanath Jayasuriya. The plot for the visitors got hazy from here on and the home team gained ground just when it was needed the most.
Scorecard: India Vs Sri Lanka »
India registered their highest ever ODI total (414/7) to make the Sri Lankans sweat bullets in the first ODI at Rajkot. The batsmen made merry in the absence of Muralitharan and everyone got into the act, lead by centurion Sehwag, MS Dhoni and the ever so graceful Sachin Tendulkar.
Ravindra Jadeja’s high hitting towards the end helped the hosts cross the 400-run mark after some wickets tumbled in an effort to take the pyrotechnics to a new level.
Soon after crossing the 300-run mark, Sehwag-Dhoni duo seemed poised to take the team’s score past 450, but the dream was cut short when, first Chanaka Welegedara and then later, Dilhara Fernando dismissed Sehwag (146) and Dhoni (72), respectively.
Sehwag had slammed his 12th ODI hundred in his typical style, less balls-more runs. This was his second ton against Sri Lanka and the islanders were left wondering what hit them as the Najafgarh blaster kept his aim simple- Smash everything out of the park!
Sri Lankan bowlers managed to pull the strings towards the end as they struck in quick succession to dismiss the deadly combo of Sehwag and Dhoni. The comeback did not stop there as Gautam Gambhir was claimed for eleven runs.
The middle order, however, could not offer the same boost as the predecessors and Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh got out while trying doing something new on the pitch. It was a good scoring morning on the run-friendly Madhavrao Scindia Ground and the spectators had to scream overtime to keep up with the Indian boundaries.
The morning was written in India’s ink even as Sachin Tendulkar was the first wicket to fall. The maestro was clean bowled for a score of 69 runs by Dilhara Fernando. Tendulkar had blasted a quick fire half-century against a hapless Sri Lankan outfit, his 92nd in the ODI format.