India v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup, Fatullah February 28, 2014

Sangakkara ton gives Sri Lanka tense win


Sri Lanka 265 for 8 (Sangakkara 103, K Perera 64, Jadeja 3-30) beat India 264 for 9 (Dhawan 94, Mendis 4-60, Senanayake 3-41) by two wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Agarkar: Sangakkara won it single-handedly

Kumar Sangakkara engineered an under-pressure 83-ball century, the quickest of his ODI career, to steer Sri Lanka to their second straight win and to the brink of a place in the Asia Cup finals. After India had posted what seemed an insufficient total, Ravindra Jadeja and the other spinners sparked an unlikely comeback midway through the Sri Lankan chase, but with Sangakkara making light of a tricky surface, India were never really favourites.

India's age-old problems with death bowling were exacerbated by the dew, and Sangakkara captialised on a series of full tosses and seemingly put India beyond the game, caning 32 off three overs to boil it down to 12 off the final two overs. When Shikhar Dhawan misfielded in the 49th over at deep square leg after another full toss, it brought up Sangakkara's 18th ODI century and victory seemed a formality. Sangakkara allowed himself a fist pump to mark the milestone. Yet another full toss spiced up the game, though, as Sangakkara miscued a waist-high delivery from Mohammed Shami to leave Thisara Perera and Ajantha Mendis needing seven off nine deliveries.

There was more low-quality cricket in the finale, as Ajantha Mendis levelled the scores with a thick outside edge past the keeper for four. With one needed in the final over, and two wickets in hand, Thisara chipped the first ball to Dhawan at mid-off, and was delighted to see a straightforward chance put down. A panicky single followed on the next delivery to finally confirm Sri Lanka's win.

Such anxious moments weren't on the cards when Sri Lanka's openers began brightly and with starkly contrasting styles - Kusal Perera all brute force with an everything-must-go mindset and Lahiru Thirmanne more of an old-fashioned stylist, thriving on precision strokes. They put on 80 before R Ashwin, switching between his new-fangled Narine-style action and his conventional one, had Thirimanne lbw for 38.

That only brought together Kusal and Sangakkara, who coolly put together a half-century stand. The score was 141 for 2 when Dinesh Karthik failed to take off the bails on the first attempt after a leg-side take to reprieve Sangakkara. It was a miss, but with Sri Lanka coasting, and India looking listless, it didn't seem like it would matter much.

Instead, Mahela Jayawardene chipped a catch straight to extra cover, and Jadeja produced a ripping turner next ball to knock back Dinesh Chandimal's off stump and hand him a golden duck. With the spinners, including part-timer Rohit, finding some rhythm, the middle-order collapsed, but Sangakkara remained immoveable, placing the ball perfectly and rarely needing to slog as he orchestrated the chase.

India's middle-order had floundered against the spinners as well, its first serious test in the absence of vastly experienced trio of MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh. The stutter came after India's best phase of the innings, with Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan putting on 97 for the second wicket on a surface where the ball was staying low and not coming easily onto the bat. Dhawan was uncharacteristically subdued, hitting only seven fours and a six in his 94 - far fewer boundaries than you would expect from a naturally aggressive batsman.

The stand was broken by Mendis, who continued his love affair with the Asia Cup by grabbing four wickets to take his tally to 21 at an average of 9.76 in six matches. It was his zipping carrom ball that sent back India's best batsman Kohli for 48, and later Dhawan for 94 in the 40th over, just as India were getting set for a final onslaught.

Ajinkya Rahane had plenty of time to get his eye in, but holed out for 22 attempting his favourite shot, the loft over extra cover. Dhawan's exit put the responsibility on Ambati Rayudu and Karthik, neither of whom are certainties in the XI, had to shepherd the team in the final ten. Both fluffed it: Karthik lasting only three balls as he miscued to mid-off, and Rayudu picking out the man at long-off as he chipped Chaturanga de Silva.

Sri Lanka backed up the bowlers with some top fielding, throwing themselves around in the deep to make several sliding stops and also hitting the stumps several times from close-in. Lasith Malinga fired in his yorkers towards the death, and though a couple of mighty hits from No. 11 Shami took India to 264, it ultimately wasn't enough in the face of a Sangakkara masterclass.

The result also added more pressure on India ahead of the marquee clash against Pakistan on Sunday.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rz on March 4, 2014, 2:02 GMT

    I just love all of these "if" and "buts" on this forum. They did have what most will say fully loaded Indian team for most part during all of their offshore series and we saw the results- complete white wash. To me it's an issue with their attitude more than of aptitude. Their players know even if they won't play for country IPL will absorb whatever thrown at them. So simply put not much incentive to play and perform for country when IPL is their to fill its crack with whatever players it gets.

  • uncle bob on March 2, 2014, 20:29 GMT

    Prema1948: the two Indians ,Dhoni and Raina,who had demystified Ajantha after his successful debut were not playing. Mendis will not be a weapon if Dhoni and Raina are on the pitch cause they read him well and thrash him all over the park.

  • Janaka on March 2, 2014, 12:52 GMT

    Not to degrade, but for the best to happen, this sort of pitches we played against India, are not good for cricket. Today, the pitch Pakistan and India play is a better one with more bounce. Definitely for the T20 world cup, Bangladesh should provide better pitches unlike this. Yes, we won, but I think if we keep on playing this sort of pitches, (of course in Sri Lanka, same situation except P Sara and Pallekele), we will not have good fast bowlers with enough experience. A guy like Shaminda Eranga should be a permanent member (I think he is having injury), and Lakmal should be playing. Somehow we won, but I'm not happy with the way things going. 50 over cricket is too much volatile, it's getting changed far too frequently than it should. I just hate the four fielder rule, two new ball rule so and so. It has become a slogger's game. If you want to see pinch hitting, why not watch T20? Sanga played well, but now you see, the roles should switch immediately, last 10, you have to smash!

  • Janaka on March 2, 2014, 12:29 GMT

    Just something in my mind for a long long time. I like to see Sri Lankan team wearing our 1996 shirt again. It was the most beautiful dress code we had ever. And I just watched Lasith Malinga bowling in a Test match. I wish to see him bowling yet again in Tests, at least one. He reverse swing the ball. I hope the two new ball rule will be removed. It just killed the game. I love to see fast bowlers charging in. Not just Perera like batsmen hammering the ball out of the park.

  • Dummy4 on March 2, 2014, 6:29 GMT

    murli vijay , pujara should be brought in odi team along with zaheer.bowling unit pandey, yadav and aaron if trained can be a vital weapon if the length and line r good in wc at aus and nz. dk plays well overseas. what about parvez rasool

  • Dummy4 on March 2, 2014, 6:10 GMT

    To think that Ajanhta Mendis wasn't even an automatic selection for this game. One only has to look at his extraordinary record to suggest that he's far better than Sri Lanka's third best spinner.

  • chanaka on March 2, 2014, 5:57 GMT

    Sangalization : getting milestone with boundary

    48.2 Mohammed Shami to Sangakkara, FOUR, that's his hundred!Sanga's 18th hundred

    26.2 Mohammad Hafeez to Sangakkara, FOUR, lhalf-century No. 84 comes up

    42.2 Rubel Hossain to Sangakkara, FOUR, holds his pose as he pounds this through extra and touches gloves with his captain to celebrate his century.

    42.3 Mahmudullah to Sangakkara, SIX, reaches his fifty with a thump over deep midwicket

    62.5 Mahmudullah to Sangakkara, FOUR, a neat little tickle to the long leg boundary fetches Sanga a flawless century.

    86.5 Al-Amin Hossain to Sangakkara, FOUR, full and homing in on leg stump but Sanga is too strong there, whips it away through midwicket to signal his 150.

    108.4 Mahmudullah to Sangakkara, FOUR, there it is! another double for Sangakkara,

    136.6 Sohag Gazi to Sangakkara, FOUR, turns it into a full toss and launches it over mid-on to register his 250

    147.5 Shakib Al Hasan to Sangakkara, SIX, six to reach 300

  • chanaka on March 2, 2014, 2:50 GMT

    Thank you India for just waste one ball for Chandimal.

  • Sarath on March 2, 2014, 0:23 GMT

    Ajantha,S'nayake & MalindaPushpakumara(the leading left-arm spinner) are the most outstanding spinners in our Domestic Cricket since 2007. The loose-limbed Ajantha with his extraordinary skills(won the most coveted price of being the best, Emerging Player of the Year & one of the best performers in the '11 WC)wasn't included against the matches against IND&PAK, WC'11,due to an idiotic assumption made by a puppet, just to prevent Murali's place being taken over by quality player like Ajantha, after MM's retirement. A time when AUS,SAfcans weren't successful against Ajantha, how can INDians & PAKs be successful against him, all the time? Ajantha1st Class Bo Av 21.83, ODI Bo Av 21.02, T/20 Bo Av 13.61 with 4six wkt hauls in LO Internationals). S'nayake 1st CL BO Av 19.69,MalindaPushpakumara1st CL BO Av 21.11,RoshenSilva,Chandimal,AngeloP,.. they all were fully qualified to be included in that team 2011WC. However Country's Cricket is hugely benifited by Ind Media.(Stats CRICINFO)

  • Lakmal on March 1, 2014, 17:41 GMT

    for the commentators who define SL bowlers as street level bowlers. : OH! :P you guys always like dhoni after a defeat. Well ok. Take SL bowlers as street level ones. And I feel very sorry for the legendary outerclass international players who faild agaisy the street level bowling. Cheers! :D lol.