Sri Lanka finally open their account
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter

Scorecard:Sri Lanka v India
Player:TM Dilshan, KC Sangakkara, Yuvraj Singh, RA Jadeja, MS Dhoni
Event:India in Sri Lanka 2008/09

DateLine: 8th February 2009


Sri Lanka won the final match by 68 runs and bag a consolation win a thorough all-round performance, first set up by Dilshan and Sangakkara. The Indian juggernaut has finally come to a close and Sri Lanka will be relieved that they were not whitewashed. The intensity that was seen in the previous matches from the Indian side was seen missing and the Lankan team looked more focused to win the match at all costs.


The turnaround in batting fortunes was made possible after Mahela Jayawardene finally won a toss in the series, because the dry pitch at the Premadasa Stadium has turned in the second innings in previous games. Sanath Jayasuriya provided Sri Lanka with a blazing start in their bid to avoid a first 5-0 series whitewash, and half-centuries from Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara ensured the hosts were well placed to push for a total in excess of 300. During his brief innings, Jayasuriya beat the bowlers into submission, giving Sri Lanka a launch pad. By the time Jayasuriya fell, top-edging Irfan Pathan after a premeditated charge, Sri Lanka had reached 66 in 10.1 overs. Though the pyrotechnics stopped after the dismissal, Sri Lanka continued to score steadily. The highlight of Dilshan's innings was his running between the wickets, and his driving - through cover and straight down the ground. Sangakkara benefited from some wayward bowling from Virender Sehwag, who gave him a loose delivery down leg side in each of his three overs. India's two newcomers for the dead rubber didn't have the best of early starts either. Ravindra Jadeja dropped a simple catch from Jayasuriya, on 19, at point and L Balaji, who was making a comeback after more than three years, conceded eight runs in his first over.


India used six part-timers in all, making it nine bowlers in. India tried to hustle through the middle overs, using their spinners to bowl 21 overs. Sangakkara used the slog-sweep to good effect and targeted the midwicket region. However, he played one too many and missed his century, ending a 143-run partnership for the second wicket with Dilshan. Dilshan meanwhile ran hard, waited for the loose balls, and found the gap through cover consistently. Dilshan scored his first half-century of the series, and he could have easily converted it into a hundred but he became part of a middle-order collapse. In the 42nd of the innings Thilina Kandamby was beaten for pace, and Chamara Kapugedera edged behind three balls later. Dilshan tried steal a run to but was beaten by a superb direct-hit from Rohit Sharma. Mahela Jayawardene then chipped Yuvraj Singh to extra cover in the next over, and the momentum was lost. In the last nine overs, Sri Lanka lost six wickets for only 66 runs. The batting Powerplay was badly timed once again, for they kept delaying it when the set batsmen were in, and ultimately were forced to take it in the 46th over, when they had only four wickets in hand.


Jayasuriya moved to his left to take a sharp catch from Sehwag off Thushara, in the second over of the innings. In the next over Sangakkara, who stood up to the seamers right from the start of the innings, hung on to a thick edge from Raina. Gautam Gambhir had just started to open up in company of Yuvraj when he got a thin edge off Kulasekara, which Sangakkara held on to safely. India were 52 for 3 then, and Yuvraj had already scored 31. Even though Sri Lanka had taken four wickets early, the key wicket came in the 22nd over when Muttiah Muralitharan caught-and-bowled the sublimely dangerous Yuvraj Singh. Until then, Yuvraj's extremely clean hitting had made sure India were in the game despite the dismissals of some of their best strikers. When he got out, Yuvraj, who came to bat at No. 4, had scored 73 out of India's 125. Yuvraj played a dream knock, just for the pure timing, until it was cut short. Only when he top-edged that sweep of Murali did Sri Lanka gain an upper hand in their defence of 320. None of Nuwan Kulasekara, Farveez Maharoof or Thilan Thushara was spared. The slower balls were read early, and swept with ease; one of them off Maharoof went for a huge six. Yuvraj reached his 50 in 46 balls, hitting 10 boundaries. Yuvraj was brought in by some smart cricket by Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara.


The story seemed to continue with Rohit Sharma in the middle, before Rohit mistimed a pull. In the next over, Yuvraj flicked Thushara for another boundary, and India were back on the hitting track again. Sri Lanka knew that if Yuvraj batted for much longer the early wickets would come to nought, and then Murali struck. Yusuf Pathan done in when he was trapped leg before by the doosra from Murali. Dhoni and new comer Jadeja added 55 in 11 overs but it was clearly to be seen that he was struggling with his hamstring. Dhoni made a gusty half-century but he was out shortly when he tried to loft Jayasuriya out of the park. Pathan was next to go when he tried to go after Mendis. Jadeja scored a fighting fifty and became the eleventh Indian to score a fifty in his debut innings. The temperament displayed by the youngster showed why he is highly rated by the critics. Balaji swung his bat around for sometime before he was dismissed trying for a six and Sharma was cleaned up by a straighter one from Maharoof while Jadeja remained unbeaten on 60.