Zeecric Bureau/Chayan Rastogi
Dambulla: Riding on a superb century by Tilakratne Dilshan, Sri Lanka registered a comprehensive victory by 74 runs over India to win the tri-nation Micromax Cup at the Rangiri International stadium in Dambulla.
Chasing a big target of 300 runs to win the final under lights, India, playing with seven specialist batsman in this match, folded out for 225 runs in 46.5 overs.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni fought lone battle till the very end and was the last wicket to fall, as wickets continued to tumble from the other side.
Suraj Randiv and Thisara Perera took three wickets apiece while slinger Malinga scalped two wickets in Indian innings.
Tilakratne Dilshan won the well deserved ‘Man of the match’ award for his eighth ODI century while the tournament top scorer Virender Sehwag walked away with the ‘Player of the series’ award.
Indian batsmen never got off to a good start during the chase and Sri Lankan bowlers did not let Indians to form partnership as they chipped in with wickets at regular interval.
India suffered a huge setback in the sixth over, when the tournament top-scorer Virender Sehwag got himself run-out in bizarre fashion.
This was India`s second wicket to fell as India lost Dinesh Karthik in the very first over of the innings, when he was wrongly adjudged caught-behind by umpire Asad Rauf of the bowling of Lasith Malinga.
Replays suggested that the ball clearly deflected off his thigh pad as the unlucky batsman got out on yet another duck.
After a twin wicket blow in initial part of the chase, Yuvraj Singh weaved a valuable counter-attacking 50-run partnership with Virat Kohli but just when the partnership looked threatening, Yuvraj edged an inswinger by Perera to leave team in deep trouble.
Virat Kohli, who also looked good during his stay on the crease, was the fourth wicket to fall as India still needed 190 runs in 29 overs.
After the fall of Kohli, Suresh Raina tried to steer India out of danger but he perished playing an expensive loft off Suraj Randiv after constructing a valuable 49-run partnership with Dhoni for the fifth wicket.
Raina looked in good touch as he muscled two sixes off Sri Lankan spinners and looked to do much-required damage control with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni playing a good hand at the other hand.
Rohit Sharma was dismissed cheaply after Raina’s dismissal and it was all upon on Dhoni to do the inevitable.
Dhoni took the batting powerplay in 36th over of the innings but with no batsman showing the intent to stay on the crease, there were no fireworks during the field-restricted overs.
Dhoni brought up his fifty in 39th over of the innings and got out as the last batsman when he was bowled by spinner Suraj Randiv for 67 runs.
Earlier, a gutsy century by Tilakratne Dilshan and a quickfire fifty by Lankan skipper Sangakkara helped Lanka to put a big total of 299 runs for the loss of eight wickets in the final.
Dishan slammed a brilliant century and weaved a significant 121-run partnership for the first wicket with Mahela Jayawardene to give Sri Lanka an early edge in the final.
The all pace attack of Praveen, Munaf, Ishant and Nehra looked ordinary as Dilshan decided to cut lose, hammering 11 boundaries and a towering six to quickly notch up his hundred in 107 balls.
Praveen Kumar dismissed dangerous Dilshan after he played very valuable and entertaining knock of 110 runs.
After Dilshan’s dismissal, Sangakkara took charge in his hands and hammered all Indian bowlers out of the park, picking up seven boundaries and a huge six as he raised his 58th ODI fifty in quick time.
Ashish Nehra sent back dangerous looking Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara on 71 as Indian bowlers put brake on Sri Lankan charge towards a huge score in the tri-series final at the Rangiri International stadium in Dambulla.
After Sangakkara’s departure, Indian bowlers tried to put a break on Lankan progress with some quick wickets but a late assault by Chamara Silva ensured Sri Lanka of a big total in the final.
Earlier Mahela Jayawardene, who reached a personal milestone of scoring 9000-ODI runs during his innings of 39 runs, became first man to be dismissed in the 21st over of the Sri Lankan innings.
Openers Tilakratne Dilshan and Jayawardene put up a quick 121-run partnership to give Sri Lanka an early edge in the final.
Mahela Jayawardene looked in sublime touch stroking five boundaries before he holed out a slower ball from Ishant Sharma at sweeper cover, where Dinesh Karthik pouched up a simple catch.
Both openers initially made a cautious start, shouldering balls which were outside the off-stump but maintained a steady run rate of over five in the first power-play with both Dilshan and Jayawardene picking up well timed boundaries.
Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara won the toss and instantly opted to bat against India.
India dropped all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja for this match and brought Rohit Sharma in place of him to bolster their weak batting.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, fielded an unchanged side which defeated India badly in the last league match.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C), Dinesh Karthik, Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel.
Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Chamara Silva, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews, Suraj Randiv, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara and Thissera Perera.