Match report: SL v Ind – 3rd ODI
Colombo, July 28: India beat Sri Lanka by five wickets to take a 2-1 lead in the five-match ODI series. After winning the toss and opting to bat first in Colombo, the Lankans managed a challenging score of 286 for five. However, a feisty century from Gautam Gambhir (102) followed by a blustery 65* off 45 balls from Suresh Raina saw India home with two deliveries to spare.
In the process of achieving the win, India set a new world record for highest successful run-chase in ODIs on Sri Lankan soil.
Sri Lanka entered this game with Jeevan Mendis replacing Lahiru Thirimanne. India, on the other hand, made a couple of changes with Rahul Sharma and Ashok Dinda replacing Pragyan Ojha and Umesh Yadav in the playing eleven.
Sri Lanka’s score was the result of a strong performance by their middle-order batsmen. After Zaheer Khan accounted for both of Sri Lanka’s openers (Tillakaratne Dilshan 4, Upul Tharanga 8) before the completion of the fifth over, Irfan Pathan had the hosts wobbling at 20 for three when he trapped Dinesh Chandimal lbw for a duck.
However, unlike the visitors who caved in after losing early wickets in the second ODI, Sri Lanka’s veterans, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene orchestrated a rescue act. Both batsmen rotated the strike with ease, picking singles at every opportunity while hitting the odd boundary to bring the hosts back into the game.
Although Jayawardene got to his half-century score before Sangakkara, the Lankan skipper was out lbw to Rahul Sharma just after Sangakkara had reached his half-century. Jayawardene made 65 and the hosts were 141 for four in 29.2 overs at the fall of his wicket. Sangakkara (73), too, didn’t last for much longer; the No. 3 batsman was caught at point by Virat Kohli off Ashok Dinda at the end of the 38th over with the score at 182.
It was here that Angelo Mathews and Jeevan Mendis cut loose and gave the hosts’ innings the required fillip at the end.
The two batsmen struck a belligerent 104-run stand, that saw Lanka post 97 runs in the last 10 overs. Ashok Dinda, alone, was carved for 40 runs off his last three overs as Sri Lanka surged to a score of 286 for five at the end of 50 overs. Both batsmen remained unbeaten; Angelo Mathews at 71 (off 57 balls) and Jeevan Mendis at 45 (off 40 balls).
Facing a tough ask, the visitors lost Virender Sehwag (3) early when he tried to flay one on the off side, but ended up holing out to substitute SM Senanayake off Thisara Perera. Gautam Gambhir, nevertheless, continued unfettered, bringing up his half-century in just 43 deliveries thanks to a series of cut shots.
Virat Kohli gave Gambhir adequate support with a sedate 38 (off 65 balls) that took India past the 100-run mark in the 18th over. After Kohli’s fall, MS Dhoni continued to keep the visitors in the hunt with a 67-run stand with Gambhir for the third wicket. However, a double-strike by Malinga in the 36th over (Dhoni 31, Rohit Sharma 0) pegged India back with the score reading 180 for four.
Gambhir (102) brought up his 11th ODI century by pushing the ball to backward point in the 37th over, but got run-out just as India needed him to see the run-chase through.
Suresh Raina and Irfan Pathan, however, finished the job for India. With India needing 91 to win at the fall of Gambhir’s wicket from 69 deliveries, the two batsmen launched a calculated assault to get to the target. Raina, who survived a dropped catch when he was on 19, did the bulk of the scoring. While a couple of edges from his bat did make their way to the third-man boundary, Raina also bludgeoned a few balls, including a Lasith Malinga delivery for six, to bring up his half-century off just 35 balls.
In the end, India won with five wickets to spare. Irfan Pathan (34* off 31) brought up the winning runs with a lofted shot to the mid-wicket fence off Angelo Mathews. Raina remained unbeaten on 65.
The fourth ODI will be played on July 31 at the R.Premadasa Stadium in Colombo itself.
Brief scores: India 288/5 in 49.4 overs (Gautam Gambhir 102, Suresh Raina 65*, Lasith Malinga 2/60) beat Sri Lanka 286/5 in 50.0 overs (Kumar Sangakkara 73, Angelo Mathews 71*, Zaheer Khan 2/39) by five wickets
Man-of-the-match: Suresh Raina for his unbeaten knock of 65 runs which saw India home by five wickets.