Zeenews Sports Bureau
Colombo: Once again when the Indian team was struggling against Sri Lankans, it was the ever reliable Gautam Gambhir who rose to the occasion scoring his 11th ODI ton that helped his side defeat the hosts by 5 wickets in the third ODI match played at R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo.
It wasn’t a convincing win for Team India as at one stage they were reeling at 196/5, but it was an excellent sixth wicket partnership between Suresh Raina (65*) and Irfan Pathan (34*) that guided them home.
Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and decided to bat first. His decision didn’t work for the team as Sri Lanka lost Dilshan, Tharanga and Chandimal with just 20 runs on board.
Two of the most experienced Lankan batsmen – Jayawardene and Sangakkara then stabilized the innings with a century partnership between them. Rahul Sharma broke the partnership as he dismissed Mahela (65) in the 30th over.
Sangakkara who scored a ton in the second ODI was dismissed by Ashok Dinda for 73. Just like the Indian innings, the hosts too were struggling at 182/5 after which Angelo Mathews (71*) and Jeevan Mendis (45*) added 104 runs for the sixth wicket as Sri Lanka posted a formidable total of 286 runs.
India lost Sehwag (3) early in the innings after which Kohli (38) and Gambhir added 108 runs for the second wicket. After Kohli was dismissed in the 21st over, Dhoni and Gambhir took charge and things were under control till the 35th over.
The 36th over bowled by Malinga brought Sri Lanka back into the game as he dismissed Dhoni and Rohit Sharma off successive deliveries.
Dhoni was bowled by a deadly Yorker from Malinga who has been questioned about his performances against India of late. Malinga’s celebrations were doubled when he caught Rohit Sharma plumb in front of the wicket as the Sri Lanka dugout went jubilant.
But the hosts couldn’t manage to take another wicket after Sharma’s dismissal as Raina and Pathan played some good strokes towards the end. The winning runs were hit by Pathan who pulled a short ball from Angelo Mathews for a boundary.
Raina and Irfan Pathan deserve as much credit as Gambhir. Both of them had some nervous moments as boundaries came off leading edges. But once they were set, they dictated the proceedings and scored boundaries at will leading their side to victory.
India now lead the five match series 2-1.
First Published: Saturday, July 28, 2012, 13:35