Feroz Khan/Zeenews Sports
Adelaide: In the end it was MS Dhoni again who was left with the task of finishing the proceedings for India and the ice cool captain did not disappoint -- only difference being that this time he left the fans wandering whether to smile or scowl.
The fifth ODI of the CB series ended in a dramatic tie that saw both India and Sri Lanka post an identical scoreline of 237/9 in their respective 50 overs. For India, Gautam Gambhir top scored with 91 runs and Dhoni was unbeaten on 58.
Indian captain MS Dhoni embarked upon yet another mission to drive his side to a sensational finish and he almost succeeded in repeating his exploits against Australia earlier in the series.
The rotation policy of Indian cricket team seems to have started backfiring as was evident from the dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar early in their innings. Compared to the innings Tendulkar played at Perth where he looked in his elements, here at Adelaide he looked out of sorts and eventually got out edging Nuwan Kulasekera behind stumps for the score of 15.
Virat Kohli (15) suffered a rare failure with the bat while Rohit Sharma’s frustrating wait for a substantial knock continued as he was run out after scoring just 15. Suresh Raina also perished soon after continuing his rough patch as he was snapped up by Kumar Sangakkara behind the stumps putting a full stop to his innings at eight.
Meanwhile, the man in-form Gautam Gambhir played another brilliant knock to provide a solid ground for the skipper for a late flurry. En route his knock he hit six boundaries but once again was unfortunate to miss a century as a wrong call from Dhoni cost him his wicket that paved the way for Sri Lanka’s comeback late into the match.
Barring Gambhir and Dhoni, every other Indian batsman failed to play a knock of any significance.
The failure however was overshadowed by what transpired in the final over of the match when India needed nine runs to claim their third victory in a row with Malinga all set to throw down the final six balls.
The departure of Gautam Gambhir threatened to derail the Indian innings and with the inconsistent Jadeja (3) going for big shots at a time when rotating the strike seemed more sensible, it was left to Dhoni to steer the chase.
After struggling for 10 deliveries, Jadeja succumbed to a soft dismissal off Perera. With 53 runs still needed, India’s most economical bowler of the day R Ashwin joined his skipper in the middle and played a useful innings of 14 runs before getting out to Malinga’s slower one.
Playing in his first match of the series, Irfan Pathan hit a trademark six off Angelo Mathews to wipe the deficit to 15 runs. He was dismissed in the next delivery which brought in R Vinay on the crease.
In the mean time, Dhoni completed his fifty, still holding the fort taking the match to the final over, something that he has developed a liking to.
With nine runs needed of the final six balls, Dhoni and Vinay managed five runs between them before the latter was run out leaving the captain with a daunting task of scoring four runs of the last delivery.
Dhoni lashed hard at the final ball towards deep cover, ending with a triple, bringing an end to a dramatic run chase with a tie.
Sri Lankan innings
Earlier in the day, Mahela Jayawardene flipped the coin and elected to bat first hoping to rely on Lankan batting that has been more consistent and much better than their bowling admitting the fact himself during the toss. However, Upul Tharanga with his obliviousness to the footwork tried proving his captain’s assessment wrong in the first over itself. Vinay Kumar, who has been fantastic in his approach and rhythm as compared to his show in Perth Test earlier this year, drew the first blood in his second delivery of the day. A short of a length delivery that moved slightly away caught Tharanga unaware. He poked at the ball without moving his legs, ended up gifting a catch to MS Dhoni behind the stumps.
Big hitting Tillakaratane Dilshan then launched Vinay towards deep square leg for a six, hinting a counterattack or so but failed to keep his instincts in control as he tried slashing hard at a wide Irfan Pathan delivery. In the process, he bottom edged it to Dhoni, who, playing in his 200th ODI match pocketed his second catch of the day.
It seemed Lanka were throwing themselves to the charging Indians on a flat Adelaide track but talented Dinesh Chandimal and veteran Kumar Sangakkara took guard and stabilized the innings to an extent.
Thrown into the middle earlier than he would have normally expected, Sangakkara started positively with a cover drive for a triple. His intent was to stem the flow of wickets playing a lot of dots. However, R Ashwin lured him into charging down the ground but the tossed up delivery got the better out of him as he top edged it towards point to Gambhir for a simple catch. Sangakkara scored 39 (56b, 2X4) before getting out.
His partner, Dinesh Chandimal looked ominous as he seemed to start from where he left in the last ODI against India at Perth. At times he looked out of sorts when charging down the ground attempting lofted shots but he played ground strokes with ease for his innings of 81 runs laced with six boundaries and extracting a maximum hit off Jadeja.
He first joined hands with Kumara Sangakkara for a stand of 51 runs and then with skipper Jayawardene collected 94 runs at a brisk pace for the fourth wicket. Before falling victim to some smart work in the field as Rohit Sharma’s underarm throw caught him just on the line, Chandimal had played his part but surely deserved a century after doing all the hard work.
Batting powerplay gone wrong
The batting powerplay (36-40) proved to be their bane as they lost three quick wickets, a sign of desperation as they were stifled by the Indian bowlers in the middle, scampering for some quick runs. In the space of five overs they lost three wickets.
Even bit hitting Angelo Mathews failed to provide the late surge as he was run out after managing 17 runs. Jayawardene and Chandimal batted with ease on this track but others struggled owing to some stingy bowling form the Indians. Apart from two overthrows and a fumble here or there, Indians were sharp on the field and their bowlers bowled in the right areas, forcing the batsmen to look for runs.
Along with Vinay, Ashwin too bowled economically giving away just 30 runs in his quota of 10 overs while plucking two wickets.