India falls short by five runs

Kumar Sangakkara’s century was the key, as Sri Lanka scored a thrilling five-run win over India in the second ODI at Rajkot. Coming into bat at 55-3, he guided the visitors to competitive total of 257-8, a target that proved just a little too much for India.

Sri Lanka got off to a precarious start after being put into bat by India, with Munaf Patel striking in the third over, removing Sanath Jayasuriya caught behind by MS Dhoni. Munaf also dismissed Marvan Atapattu, leg before, for 15. Meanwhile, S Sreesanth took care of both, the opener Upul Tharanga and skipper Mahela Jayawardene, thus reducing Sri Lanka to 58-4.

Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan then took the task of rebuilding in the innings. Over the course of the next 20+ overs, they put on a century partnership, being particularly comfortable against Anil Kumble, who as it turned out, ended wicketless and going almost a run a ball.

However, just when it looked that Sangakkara and Dilshan would take Sri Lanka to a score closer to 300 than 250, the latter fell to Harbhajan Singh, the second Indian spinner for the match since Zaheer Khan had to sit out from injury, off a “doosra”. From then on, Sri Lanka couldn’t really put the foot on the accelerator in order to prevent wickets and thus last the entire quota of 50 overs.

Sangakkara, however, did go past the three-figure mark, the 12th time he did so in ODI cricket, although only after he gave a chance on 91, a straightforward catch which was dropped by Munaf. He put on 61 runs for the seventh wicket with Farveez Maharoof, to take the score to 249, before falling himself to Munaf for 110, which included 11 fours and four sixes. Munaf picked up another wicket next ball to end with four for the innings.

India’s start to their innings was not too better than Sri Lanka either, as both Robin Uthappa and Rahul Dravid were dismissed within the first four overs by Maharoof. Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly balanced the innings after those early losses, putting on exactly a hundred for the third wicket in 120 balls. Tendulkar was especially fierce, going at over run a ball at one point of time.

The introduction of the spinners, however, turned the momentum towards Sri Lanka, as there were quite a few lean overs for India. Tendulkar lost the impetus that he had gained against the pace bowlers, by being bogged down. He eventually fell to Malinga Bandara, stumped, for 54.

Ganguly, who was the quieter partner, followed Tendulkar, when he was caught behind for 62, with the Indian score at 154-4. But when Virender Sehwag, who has been out of touch for what seems to be like an eternity now, got out of a sloppy bit of cricket attempting a late-cut, India were reduced to 169-5, and in danger of tumbling to a collapse.

The young guns rescued the collapse though; Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik, put together a 68-run partnership for the sixth wicket, albeit at a slower pace than one would except of them, being the explosive batsmen they are. However, the match hadn’t had its final twist yet.

Just when it looked as if the two keepers would take India to a victory, with just 24 runs remaining of the last five overs, Karthik was yorked for a leg before dismissal for 31. The tailenders followed in quick succession and all of a sudden they required 11 off the last overs, with three wickets in hand.

Jayasuriya picked up the responsibility of bowling the last over, and it couldn’t have gotten more Sri Lanka’s way. Kumble was run out the first ball, as Dhoni tried to get back to strike. This was followed by two dot balls to Dhoni, which meant India needed 10 runs off three balls. Dhoni managed to hit a boundary of the next ball, but fell the delivery after excellently caught in the deep by Maharoof, thus reducing India’s chances of winning drastically. Sreesanth failed to make contact with the ball off the last ball, which had to clear the boundary if India had to win, thus awarding Sri Lanka an unexpected win.

Sri Lanka 257-8 in 50 overs
Kumar Sangakkara 110 (127), Tillakaratne Dilshan 56 (65)
Munaf Patel 4-49 (9), S Sreesanth 2-39 (10)

India 252-9 in 50 overs
Sourav Ganguly 62 (79), Sachin Tendulkar 54 (61), MS Dhoni 48 (68)
Farveez Maharoof 3-42 (10), Malinga Bandara 2-36 (10)

Man of the Match: Kumar Sangakkara 110 (127)

Sri Lanka won by 5 runs, and leads the 4-ODI series 1-0.

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