Lanka draw level with crushing 9-wkt victory vs Ind
Chasing a target of 139, which isn`t good enough for even Twenty20 format, Sri Lankan openers Upul Tharanga (59 no, 60 balls) and Tillekaratne Dilshan (50, 49 balls, 5×4) added 119 runs as the islanders hardly broke sweat while racing to the target in only 19.5 overs. The win also means that India won`t get a shot at No 1 spot in ICC ODI rankings, for which they needed a 5-0 margin in the current series.
Although the second ODI was played on a different strip, it was inexplicable as to how a team, which scored 314 a couple of days back, showed complete lack of application to get out inside the 34th over. Save opener Gautam Gambhir, who scored a fighting 65 (96 balls, 4×4), the other batsmen paid heavy price for their indiscretion on a pitch that demanded judicious shot selection. Thisara Perera (3/14) and Angelo Mathews (3/19) ran through the Indian top-order.
Although there was a greenish tinge, the pitch, which was primarily on the lower side, also produced the odd deliveries that reared up from the three quarter. India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and expectedly decided to bat despite windy conditions that aided swing bowlers. The visitors got off to a brisk start courtesy Virender Sehwag (15) as he blasted debutant Isuru Udana for a couple of boundaries as they raced to 31 in just three overs.
After Udana went for 16 in his first over, Mahela Jayawardene had no option but to turn to Perera whose slower delivery did the trick after Sehwag committed to the shot early for the bowler to take a sharp reflex catch. Failure is a rarity for Virat Kohli (1) these days but today was different. He chased a delivery from Perera that was wide outside off-stump and the faint nick gave Kumar Sangakkara, first of his four catches.
Rohit Sharma (0), who is lucky to be still persisted with — purely on the basis of potential rather than performance — once again flattered to deceive as he played on while going for an ambitious cut off a very wide delivery from Mathews. Suresh Raina (1) dragged one from Perera back onto his off-stump. Dhoni (11) hit a couple of fours but then went for a non-existent cut shot off a Mathews delivery. The ball reared up from short of good length and there was virtually no room to play the square cut and Sangakkara took the edge.
With all the top-order batsmen save Gambhir back in the pavilion before completion of first 15 overs, the Delhi left-hander had an onerous task of saving his wicket as well as scoring some runs. Irfan Pathan (6) too didn`t stay long but Ravichandran Ashwin (21, 15 balls, 3×4) did throw his bat around during a 28-run eighth wicket partnership after which the burly Tamil Nadu offie was needlessly run-out.
Gambhir, meanwhile, got to his 32nd half-century with No 10 batsmen Pragyan Ojha for company. He ultimately ran out of patience as he tried to steer a Lasith Malinga delivery, only for Sangakkara to effect a brilliant one-handed catch.
Defending a small target was always going to be difficult irrespective of the conditions and India needed early breakthroughs. However, the pace trio of Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan and Umesh Yadav presented the opening duo with a lot of width as they raced to 64 for no loss before break.
When Ashwin finally got rid of Dilshan, the contest was as good as over. It was Dinesh Chandimal whose streaky shot through second slip helped Lanka reach the target with 181 balls remaining.