Zeenews Bureau / Pratik Dogra
Colombo: Less than 24 hours after India had ascended to the position of top ODI team, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s boys were brought crashing down to earth by a disciplined Sri Lankan unit who inflicted a humiliating 139 run defeat on their fancied opponents.
India failed miserably in their endeavor to deliver a performance in accordance to their top billing and were thoroughly out-played by their hosts in all departments of the game, leaving Dhoni and rest of the think-tank with lot of soul searching ahead of the final on Monday.
If Sanath Jayasuriya (98) and Thilina Kandamby (91*) proved India’s nemesis with the bat, it was the unheralded Angelo Mathews who spelled India’s doom with phenomenal figures off.
No wonder then that it was India’s second biggest defeat to Sri Lanka in terms of runs.
The only positive Dhoni could have possibly derived from today’s game was that maybe today was ‘one of those off days when everything that can go wrong, goes wrong’, which every team encounters.
Luckily for him, India had it today in an inconsequential tie!
Starting from the toss it was Sri Lanka who all the way leaving India to play catch-up cricket.
Their openers came out all guns blazing depositing the India’s new ball bowlers- RP Singh and Ashish Nehra to various parts of the park.
Ishant Sharma did provided India with their first breakthrough when he induced a thick edge off Tillakaratne Dilshan’s bat, straight into Dhoni’s gloves, but by then Sri Lanka had already breezed past the 50 run-mark in just the 8th over.
Dilshan made 23 runs off 27 balls with 4 fours.
Harbhajan Singh and Yusuf Pathan then removed Mahela Jayawardene (17) and Kumara Sangakkara (5) cheaply to raise Indian hopes, only to be thwarted by Jayasuriya first, and then Kandamby.
Jayasuriya, however, looked set to hog the limelight at R Premadasa here on Saturday.
Tha Matara Mauler treated the holiday crowd to some exceptional power hitting, answering his critics in a grand manner befitting his tremendous talents. He notched up 98 runs off just 79 balls, dissecting the Premadasa with 13 hits to the fence, before falling 2-runs short of what would have been his 29th ODI hundred.
Ashish Nehra played the spoilsport for the 38-year old warrior trapping him LBW in the first ball of the 29th over.
Following Jayasuriya’s departure, however, the inexperience in the Sri Lankan ranks did threaten to come to the fore when Mathews fell almost immediately afterwards for a 37-ball 19 runs. He was beaten by part-timer Suresh Raina’s flight, only to become MS Dhoni’s second stumping.
But Kandamby and Kapugedera eased Sri Lankan nervers, much to the agony of the Indians.
The duo indulged in street-smart cricket, cutting away risky shots without compromising on the scoring rate as Sri Lanka whistled past 250 run-mark in the 45th over thanks to their 83-run partnership.
But after Kapugedera fell for 36, run-out to a direct hit from RP Singh, Kandamby took it upon himself to put the Indian bowling to sword.
Off the 48 runs from 23 balls that were scored after Kapugedera fell, Kandamby scored as many as 45 runs leaving Kulasekara to play only 4 deliveries.
Kandamby hit 11 fours in his innings with 8 of them coming in the last 4 overs during his stay that lasted just 73 balls, but yielded 91 runs.
Harbhajan was the pick of the bowlers with tidy figures of 1/37 from 10 overs while every other bowler went in excess of 6 per over.
In pursuit of 308 runs needed for victory, the opening duo of Dinesh Karthick and Sachin Tendulkar made a promising start.
However, Thilan Thushara gave an early breakthrough to the hosts, dismissing Karthick by getting him caught by wicket keeper Kumar Sangakkara.
The first to fall, however was Karthik. The short ball proved to be Karthik’s bane who failed to connect his pull shot, gloving it to Kumara Sangakkara instead. He made 16 runs from 23 balls, and hit 2 fours.
Undeterred, Tendulkar, on 28, was looking in ominous touch until he was done in by a slower one from Kulasekara. On to the shot too early, he ended up punching it straight to Ajantha Mendis at mid-on. The Mumbai Meastro lasted 33 balls, hitting 5 fours.
Even after his dismissal, at drinks after the 16th over, India seemed comfortably at 81/2.
However, after that India’s reply started wavering for the want of momentum.
Just when it seemed that a partnership was blossoming, a wicket was squandered and Mount 308 looked steeper and steeper.
Having done the initial hard work and after getting his eye in Yuvraj Singh carelessly nudged away an outside edge of Lastha Malinga. His 16 runs came off 22 balls and contained 2 fours.
India’s chase derailed further when Suresh Raina fell for a first ball duck to Angelo Mathews.
And when Rahul Dravid and MS Dhoni fell in identical fashion within the space of 2 overs, clean bowled while trying to slice away to the off-side, the writing was on the wall for India.
While Dravid stitched together a well made 47 (56 balls, 3 fours and 1 six), Indian captain could manage only a patch 8.
Yusuf Pathan too joined the procession, nicking away needlessly to Kumara Sangakkara 2 balls later for 1 off Mathews again.
Harbhajan Singh and Ashish Nehra became Mathews 5th and 6th victim respectively as India slit back to the second spot in ICC rankings.
First Published: Saturday, September 12, 2009, 22:20