Biswajit Jha/Zeecric Bureau
Dambulla: A superb five-wicket haul by Farveez Maharoof followed by a quickfire 73 by captain Kumar Sangakkara helped Sri Lanka beat India 7 wickets and take a psychological advantage before Thursday’s all-important Asia Cup final.
Chasing 210 for victory, Sri Lanka made a mockery of the Indian bowling, overhauling the total with 12 overs to spare.
Skipper Kumar Sagakkara led Lankan chase from the front with an authoritative 73 and along with his former captain Mahela Jayawardene dented India’s confidence before their rematch in final.
When Sagakkara finally got out on 73, Sri Lankan were in sight of victory with 26 needed from more than 17 overs.
Sangakkara’s innings was a treat to watch for every cricket lovers and perfect example of how to build an ODI innings. He never looked to be in a hurry and along with his former captain Jayawardene stitched a 104-run partnership that sealed the match in their favour.
Jayawardene also played well for his unbeaten fifty with the help of four fours and a six. Like always, he played all the shots in the book and never looked to be in any kind of trouble. Ever since both the senior players joined in the middle after they lost their second wicket on 80, they treated all the Indian bowlers with equal disdain and gave them no opportunity to come back into the match.
Zaheer Khan inflicted the first blow on Sri Lanka as he removed dangerous Tillakaratne Dilshan for 24. Dilshan, who was in an aggressive mood from the world go, was holed out at deep square by Ravindra Jadeja. Zaheer Khan then removed other opener Upul Tharanga for 38, giving Sri Lanka their second blow.
Earlier, Farveez Maharoof’s five-for including a superb hat-trick helped Sri Lanka bowl India out for a below par 209 runs.
Farveez Maharoof took a superb hat-trick in the 39th over to send a shock wave through the Indian batting line-up. From 189/4, India suddenly found themselves at 189/8. The triple blow left India in deep trouble and prevented them from posting a big score. Ultimately, Indian were skittled out in the 43rd over.
When it looked that India built a sold ground for acceleration in the slog overs, Indian captain MS Dhoni ran himself out after playing a busy innings of 41 off just 53 balls. Immediately after Dhoni’s departure, Ravindra Jadeja went without scoring a run, leaving India a spot of bother.
Praveen Kumar also did not last long as he was bowled by Farveez Maharoof in the very first ball. Maharoof took both the wickets in consecutive balls. Maharoof, then, removed Zaheer Khan in the next ball to complete his hat-trick.
Earlier, despite losing four wickets on 110, Rohit Sharma and M S Dhoni came to the rescue of India as they forged a 79-run stand to take India close to 200.
Rohit Sharma, though, remained India’s only saving grace as he made a mature 69 and became the last man out for India.
Putting into bat first, Gautam Gambhir and Dinesh Karthik gave India a good start as they helped India cross fifty run-mark in 10th over. Karthik, playing in the absence of Virender Sehwag, was more fluent of the two.
But Gautam Gambhir became the first batsman to depart as he got out for 23 off Angelo Mathews. Gambhir’s 31-ball knock consisted of three hits to the fence.
Farveez Maharoof inflicted the second blow to the Team India as he removed Virat Kohli for just 10. Kohli tried to cut one delivery from Mahroof which went straight to the gloves of Kumar Sangakkara behind the stumps.
After playing a solid knock of 40 off 43 balls, Dinesh Karthik became the first victim of left-arm spinner Rangana Herath. Karthik played really well for his 40 and forged a 58-run opening stand with Gautam Gambhir that laid India foundation. He hit six fours during his stay at the crease.
The match was seen as a dress-rehearsal for the final as both the teams would face each other in the finals of the tournament on Thursday.
India rested Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh for this match while Virender Sehwag is out of the Cup with an injury.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka have decided to rest Muttiah Muralitharan, Thilan Samaraweera, Nuwan Kulasekara and Lasith Malinga.
India (Playing XI): Gautam Gambhir, Dinesh Karthik, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni(w/c), Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Ashok Dinda, Pragyan Ojha
Sri Lanka (Playing XI): Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara(w/c), Mahela Jayawardene, Thilina Kandamby, Angelo Mathews, Chamara Kapugedera, Farveez Maharoof, Suraj Randiv, Rangana Herath, Chanaka Welegedara