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Monday, September 1, 2008

India sign off with humiliating defeat

A spineless batting display provided an anticlimax to a historic series win, as India suffered a humiliating 112-run loss to Sri Lanka the Duckworth-Lewis method, in a rain-affected fifth and final One-Day International, in Colombo, on Friday.

Though India won the five-match Idea Cup series 3-2, Friday's defeat was their heaviest in Sri Lanka

Chasing a revised target of 216 from 44 overs after rain interrupted the match for 90 minutes when India were wobbling at 70 for 3 in the 15th over, the visitors were skittled out for just 103 in 26.3 overs, their lowest score in Sri Lanka, after the hosts had put up 227 for 6 in 50 overs.

None of the Indian batsmen offered resistance to Lankan bowlers Nuwan Kulasekara and Ajantha Mendis , who shared eight wickets between themselves.

Virat Kohli top-scored with 31 as seven batsmen were out for just 33 runs in 12.1 overs.

Kulasekara ran through the Indian top order, claiming four for 40 from nine overs, including the scalps of openers Gautam Gambhir , Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma, while Mendis claimed another four for 10 from 4.3 overs. Dilahara Fernando chipped two wickets for 24 runs.

The Indians began on a cautious note, with openers Gambhir and Kohli scoring just three runs after three overs, the first and third overs bowled by Kulasekara being maidens.

But two fours by Gambhir off Thilan Thushara and a huge six by Kohli off Kulasekara eased off the pressure and India were 20 after the fifth over and the run-rate of four was maintained till Gambhir was out to the last ball of the ninth over after scoring a mere 11 from 16 balls, which included two fours.

The senior of the Delhi openers edged a Kulasekara delivery while playing away from the body and Kumar Sangakkara did the rest behind the wicket to reduce India to 38 for one.

Kohli paid the price for playing across for too many and was LBW nine balls after Gambhir's departure though after making a useful 31 off 46 balls which included three fours and a six.

India were in a spot of bother at 45 for 2 but Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina began the repair work with some lusty blows.

Raina, however, was to be blamed for getting out to a poor shot. The Uttar Pradesh youngster tried to play a pull shot off Kulasekara to a ball which was not short enough only to hole out at mid-off to Dilhara Fernando for 10 (13 balls; 2x4).

Rohit Sharma, who came after the 90-minute rain interruption, did not last long and was out LBW to Kulasekara for 3 though he was unlucky to have got the verdict as the ball was outside the line at the point of impact.

Nine balls later mystery bowler Ajantha Medis claimed Yuvaraj's wicket with his first ball which hit the stumps after having an inside edge and India were looking down the barrel at 79 for 5 then.

Any hopes of fightback went up in smoke after Dhoni was out for one in the 20th over with Fernando cleaning up the Indian captain's stumps for just one off seven deliveries to reduce the visitors to 85 for six.

Pathan (7), Zaheer Khan (3) and R P Singh (4) and Pragyan Ojha (5) went back to the pavilion in quick succession.

Earlier, gritty unbeaten knocks by Thilan Thushara (54) and Jehan Mubarak (47) down the order helped Sri Lanka post a respectable 227 for 6.

Sri Lanka were gasping at 133 for 6, but the pair combined to maul the Indian attack and post an unbeaten 94-run stand, off just 78 balls, that lent respectability to the total.

Relieved to have finally won the toss, Mahela Jayawardene did not hesitate to bat, but the home side suffered a jolt in the second over when run-machine Sanath Jayasuriya (1) perished, much to the dismay of the crowd at the Premadasa Stadium.

The 39-year old slashed at a Zaheer Khan delivery only to see the top edge flying to Pragyan Ojha at third man.

Malinda Warnapura (30) and the new-man Mahela Udawatte (43) then tried hard to consolidate the innings but runs proved hard to come by. In fact, the first 10 overs produced only 28 runs and the pressure started mounting on the batsmen.

Warnapura was lucky to be dropped by Rohit Sharma at cover point from a tough chance, while Udawatte gained in confidence as he smashed a Zaheer delivery through the cover.

Despite their best efforts, Sri Lanka's 50 runs came off 79 balls before both decided to up the tempo.

Zaheer gave away 33 runs in his first spell of seven overs while Munaf Patel was more economical, conceding just 15 runs in his six-over spell.

The Indians then fought back as Irfan Pathan induced a top edge from Warnapura and Gautam Gambhir ran back from cover to take a well-judged catch.

The Baroda bowler struck again, trapping the well-settled Udawatte.

R P Singh then joined the party, as Kumar Sangakkara (1) again flopped with the bat and perished at first slip, when Gambhir took his second catch of the match.

Jayawardene (12) got a life of sorts when Pragyan Ojha failed to catch him off his own bowling. But he could not make the most of it as the Indian spinner had the last laugh.

Jayawardene turned his bat to a dipping delivery from Ojha and ended up lobbing the ball tamely towards cover, where an agile Yuvraj Singh took the sitter.

Chamara Kapugedera (26) and Mubarak then pushed for singles as Sri Lanka reached 126 for five in 35 overs. Kapugedera's heroics, however, came to an end in the 37th over when he holed out to R P Singh off Ojha.

Sri Lanka averaged less than four at 143 for 6 even after 40 overs, suggesting the effectiveness of the Indian bowlers.

Thushara, however, had other ideas. After edging Pathan to the third man boundary, he launched the left-arm seamer into the gap at deep cover boundary much to the delight of the flag-waving spectators.

Jehan Mubarak, on a comeback trail, also chipped in with the odd boundary as the two toiled and took the islanders to a meaningful total.

R P Singh came in for some beating as both the batsmen swatted him for boundaries in the 44th over. But, by then, it was too late. The batsmen were unable to take Sri Lanka near the 250-run mark.


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