India Vs Sri Lanka, 5th ODI Match.
Disciplined India keep SL to 213
For a change, India's fielders stood up to help their bowlers, converting every opportunity created, and helping keep Sri Lanka to a below-par total. It wasn't anything spectacular: half chances were taken and easy ones not dropped, a big improvement on their recent fielding form. And just like that India reined in a murderous start from Tillakaratne Dilshan to reduce them to 84 for 6, after which it was a struggle to last 50 overs.
Zaheer Khan was the pick of the bowlers, creating three of those opportunities. At one stage his figures read 6-2-11-2. Half-centuries from Kumar Sangakkara and Suraj Randiv took them past 200, but the ease with which the lower order scored runs only spelled trouble for Sri Lanka: batting was not difficult at all.
The first 11 overs had all the action: two wicket-maidens, a wicket in the first over of new spells on three occasions, and in between that scintillating batting from Dilshan. Coming back from a groin injury, Dilshan decided to do away with the running. He just drove, cut, pulled, late-cut eight boundaries in 17 deliveries to deflate any confidence that India and Sudeep Tyagi would have gained from getting Upul Tharanga out in the first over.
When Zaheer was brought on, in the sixth over, Dilshan had hit seven boundaries in his 29, and Sri Lanka nine in their 38. He was pulled for a four second ball. The next ball took a thick edge, and was dying on Gautam Gambhir at fine gully when snared. Zaheer was pumped, and proceeded to bowl to a plan that worked just fine for him. He played on the batsmen's patience with nagging accuracy and gave nothing to drive, with a short cover in place. Mahela Jayawardene gave in, driving a ball that should not have been driven, and Virat Kohli hung on to a sharp catch at short cover.
Back came Sreesanth, whose first two overs had gone for 16, and Thilan Samaraweera walked across to a straight delivery and missed. Forty-two for 1 in 5.2 overs became 61 for 4 in 10.2. Soon Thilina Kandamby was run out, his fifth such dismissal out of 23. This time, though, he was sold a dummy by his captain, and was done in by a smart throw from Dinesh Karthik and quick backing-up by Zaheer.
Thissara Perera, bounced and verbalised by Zaheer, tried to target Amit Mishra, but Yuvraj Singh pulled out a diving catch at wide long-on, not his last contribution to Sri Lanka's woes.
Six down in the 19th over Sri Lanka, who had chosen to bat first in order to give their bowlers an experience of wet conditions under lights, were threatening to end the match even before dew could set in. Sangakkara, who had reached 32 off 42 by then, responded to Perera's wicket by stepping out and hitting Sreesanth for four. He dominated a seventh-wicket partnership that took Sri Lanka closer to 150, but that's when Yuvraj struck.
Sangakkara had tried to make full use of every loose delivery that came his way, and also taken calculated risks to keep the score board from stagnating. But when he pulled a Yuvraj delivery too full, he had spent 43 innings without a century. Randiv and Thilan Thushara added 59 for the eighth wicket, a stand that saw Randiv through to his first List A fifty. But when the time came to press on, when they opted for the Powerplay in the 44th over, the tail came up short, and Sri Lanka were bundled out by Zaheer and Mishra, with four overs still to go.