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February 12, 2008
A 21-over match should have suited the reigning world Twenty20 champions India, but a revised-down total and some blistering early strikes from Sanath Jayasuriya lifted Sri Lanka to their first win of the CB Series. Rain reduced the target to 154 and Tillakaratne Dilshan's half-century eased Sri Lanka home with 12 balls to spare.
India were on the wrong end of the weather adjustments after Rohit Sharma's career-best 70 not out set up what should have been a competitive total following morning showers. But further rain during the innings break meant Sri Lanka could pursue a victory in Twenty20 style.
The chase of 196 from 29 overs had been reduced to 154 from 21 but Sanath Jayasuriya appeared to be still aiming for the original target from the smaller amount of overs. He had his team rattling along at nearly 12 an over when he top-edged an attempted pull to Mahendra Singh Dhoni off Ishant Sharma.
Jayasuriya had taken only 13 deliveries for his 27 and he left Sreesanth with the ugly figures of 0 for 34 from his first two. Sreesanth's second over went for 23 as Jayasuriya casually flicked a six off his pads over midwicket - the ball nearly left Manuka Oval - and followed with another six lifted over backward point. There were also a couple of cracking drives through and over cover before Ishant's pace earned the prize wicket.
But with just over a run-a-ball required it was simple for Sri Lanka to keep the score ticking for such a short period, and Dilshan anchored the chase with an unbeaten 62. Dilshan cut hard and pulled impressively, reaching his half-century from 47 balls. The milestone came off Sreesanth, whose horror day continued as fielders fumbled off his bowling and Ishant misjudged what could have been a catch off Dilshan, but turned into a six.
On a day when Australia's capital city experienced the first sitting of parliament under a Labor government in nearly 12 years, Canberra's residents also enjoyed the end of another lengthy era. There had not been a one-day international played there since the 1992 World Cup, when Kepler Wessels' South Africans beat Zimbabwe at Manuka Oval.
It looked for a while like the local fans might be disappointed as the scheduled start time of 10am came and went with heavy rain falling. After three and a half hours and some frantic work by the groundstaff, a 29-over game was announced and Mahela Jayawardene asked India to bat in the still damp conditions.
India initially struggled to adjust to the unusual-length match, although Sachin Tendulkar was typically dominant in posting 32 from 30 balls, including plenty of runs worked to the leg side from outside off stump. But when he and Virender Sehwag were both caught at third man the runs dried up for a while.
Rohit and Gautam Gambhir had trouble deciding on the right tempo and India went for nearly nine overs without a boundary until Rohit cut hard for four in the 15th over. Gambhir (35) showed glimpses of his best with a couple of brazen drives over cover to the boundary but he was caught short thanks to a snappy piece of work from Lasith Malinga, who took a hard throw at the bowler's end and flicked the ball backwards onto the stumps.
At 3 for 113 after 20 overs India needed to get a wriggle-on and the 46-ball partnership of 68 between Dhoni and Rohit was ideal. They often manufactured boundaries from deliveries that weren't that bad, and it was their second important stand in three days, having saved India from a late scare to beat Australia in Melbourne on Sunday.
Rohit's half-century came with a four bunted over the wicketkeeper's head when he backed away and Nuwan Kulasekera followed him with what appeared a sensible piece of bowling. But everything went right for Rohit, who at one point had seemingly dawdled to 29 from 45 balls.
His perfectly-timed slog-sweep six off Muttiah Muralitharan inspired the late charge and soon he was backing away to create space, premeditating sweeps, and finding runs where they did not seem to exist. His 64-ball innings was complemented by Dhoni, who struck three fours in his 26-ball 31.
But India's chances drained away with the further showers - they had already suffered two wash-outs to open the CB Series in Brisbane - and Sri Lanka's first victory evened up the tournament with all three sides sitting on one win. Australia's tri-series is being axed after 29 years but the farewell competition is shaping up as a classic.
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