Dambulla: Virender Sehwag`s scintillating knock of 99* couple with a tremendous show by the bowlers helped India make a strong comeback into the tri-series, defeating host Sri Lanka by 6 wickets after the disastrous outing in the first match against New Zealand.
But the match ended with high drama as Sehwag, who was batting on 99, needed a single to give India a huge win with a bonus point. But, Suraj Randiv, it seemed, deliberately over-stepped and the delivery was declared a no-ball, which ultimately denied the Indian batting genius a well-deserved century. Sehwag hit 11 fours and two sixes during his stay at the crease.
Sehwag, like always, tried to give India a whirlwind start. But as soon as he realized that the wicket was not helping his kind of strokeplay, he went into the shell and built his innings with ones and twos with occasional boundaries.
Despite losing three wickets early on, Suresh Raina and Virender Sehwag joined in the middle and forged a valuable 59-run stand that inched India towards a victory. But in their pursuit to earn a bonus point, Raina tried to up the tempo of the run-rate which ultimately proved disastrous for him as he was caught on the on-side boundary for 21.
After Raina’s departure, it was Dhoni who assisted Sehwag and the duo took India to an easy victory. Dhoni also played sensibly and remained unbeaten on 23. When Sehwag realized that the threat was over for his team, he cut lose and slammed some lusty hits on the on-side.
It was a tremendous knock by Sehwag, considering the conditions and the opposition. He paced his innings so well that he never looked to be in a hurry but still scored almost a run-a-ball unbeaten 99.
Chasing just 171 for victory, India got off to a relatively good start, putting up 30 runs, but soon after that Dinesh Karthik threw his wicket away, trying to slash one out of the ground off Angelo Mathews. Karthik, who played a sedate knock, went for just 10, giving Sri Lanka their first wicket.
Virat Kohli, who was making a comeback, lost his wicket for a duck as paceman Dilhara Fernando induced an outside edge of Kohli’s bat which was cleanly taken behind the wicket by skipper Sangakkara.
Rohit Sharma’s poor form with the bat continued as he was removed LBW by Angelo Mathews, who gave two crucial blows to the Indian camp in two back-to-back overs, making India’s chase difficult on a not so easy Dambulla turf. Sharma also could not open his account.
Earlier, a superb show by the bowlers helped India bowl Sri Lanka out for a paltry 170.
First, Indian pace quartet of Praven Kumar (2/20), Ashish Nehra (1/39) and Ishant Shrma (2/32) wrecked the top order of Sri Lankan batting. Then, it was the spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja (2/34) and Pragyan Ojha (3/36), who walloped the Sri Lankan late order and dismissed them for a low score.
It was due to Tilakratne Dilshan’s 45 and Suraj Randiv’s 43 that saved Sri Lanka from the ignominy of being skittled out for a total below 100.
Electing to bat first, Sri Lanka started inauspiciously as they lost four wickets before their score could reach 50 and from then on they could not recover, losing wickets at regular intervals as India tightened the nose around the Sri Lankan batsmen.
Indian new-ball bowlers- Praveen Kumar and Ashish Nehra- gave them a dream start, negating Sri Lanka`s intention of getting an early advantage of the conditions. However, it did not happen as Praveen Kumar bowled out star Lankan opener Upul Tharanga for a duck off the very first delivery of the match.
Kumar spoiled all plans of Lankan party as he pitched the ball beautifully on the middle. Tharanga lost complete track of the delivery as he came forward to defend it, which instead, found its way up to the top of the off stump.
Later, Nehra coaxed Sangakkara (2) to pull his short delivery, which went high up in the air and landed straight into the hands of Pragyan Ojha at fine leg.
A couple of overs later, Kumar struck again and had Mahela Jayawardene plumb in front of the wickets and dismissed him for 4.
Ishant Sharma inflicted yet another blow on the Lankan side as he sent Thilan Samaraweera packing for just 7. Sri Lanka, at that time, were tottering at 44/4.
Tillakaratne Dilshan was playing well at the other end, trying to give some stability to the shivering innings. But Dilshan’s patience finally ran out as Indian left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha outfoxed him for 45, made off 62 balls.
Ravindra Jadeja, then, joined the wicket-taking party for India as he picked up all-rounder Angelo Mathews for 15, to give Sri Lanka their sixth blow. Jadeja, who was being criticized for not being able to perform well in recent times, deceived Matthews with a straight one that trapped him in front of the wicket.
Chamara Kapugedera (10) also did not last long as he was done in by the guile of Ravindra Jadeja’s spin.
Sri Lanka lost their 8th wicket as paceman Ishant Sharma removed Nuwan Kulasekara for 22. Kulasekara, who was trying to rebuild Sri Lankan innings along with Suraj Randiv (43), tried to steer one to third-man but gave wicket-keeper Dhoni a simple catch behind the wicket.
Suraj Randiv fought hard for his 43 that helped their innings gain some respectibilty at the end.
India went into the match without middle-order batsman Yuvraj Singh, who was down with dengue fever, and pacer Abhimanyu Mithun. Virat Kohli and Ishant Sharma were drafted in their place.
Sharma had recovered from a knee injury.
Sri Lanka dropped Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis and called in spinner Suraj Randiv and pacer Dilhara Fernando for the match.
India: MS Dhoni (c), Virender Sehwag, Dinesh Karthik, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Ashish Nehra and Pragyan Ojha.
Sri Lanka: Kumar Sangakkara (c), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suraj Randiv, Lasith Malinga and Dilhara Fernando.