India v Sri Lanka, CB Series, 5th ODI, Canberra February 12, 2008

Jayawardene hopes to build on opening momentum


Tillakaratne Dilshan's first stint as opener paid off rich dividends from Sri Lanka, who finally got a win in the CB Series © AFP
 

On a day in which the weather played a major role, both rival captains credited the momentum handed to Sri Lanka's run chase by their openers as key to a first win in the CB Series.

Mahela Jayawardene felt the biggest positive was the way his batsmen played and showed character in contrast to their insipid display last week in Sydney against Australia, something the side was still trying to forget. "We couldn't get the start in Sydney," he said after Sri Lanka's eight-wicket win in Canberra. "It's good we got a good start and we are getting back into the rhythm."

The reason behind Jayawardene's confidence lay in his team's well-planned approach. "We calculated as well, kept wickets and Sanath [Jayasuriya] gave us a good beginning", he said. In a brief but brutal attack Jayasuriya took Sreesanth to the cleaners, clouting 34 runs in the fast bowler's first two overs. India may have had reason to feel robbed by Messrs Duckworth & Lewis, whose ruling set Sri Lanka a revised target of 154 from 21 overs.

Jayawardene had plenty of praise for Tillakaratne Dilshan who, in some doubt going into this game as he was coming off a bout of infection, scored an unbeaten 62 from 59 balls to seal victory. Dilshan had never opened the innings at this level but Jayawardene said the decision had a lot to do with his experience as an opener in Sri Lankan domestic cricket. "When we realised it was a shortened game and the track was good we wanted an extra bowler and Dilshan has batted in domestic cricket and they way he carried his innings made it a good choice."

As for the role the weather played, Jayawardene didn't look much into it. "You can't control what happened. If we would've got a full game things would have been different", he said, pointing out that Sri Lanka might even have got the original target of 195 set in 29 overs.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India's captain, gave full credit to Sri Lanka's batsmen for taking the game away from India but did blame the changed circumstances for his team's misfortunes. "The approach changes a lot when all of a sudden it became an almost 20-over game. So a total of 154 became nothing special then," Dhoni said.

Dhoni agreed that the first part of Sri Lanka's innings was the turning point and for which his side could hardly find any answers. "The kind of start they got it was really amazing. We couldn't' do anything." Dhoni said, refraining from blaming his fast bowlers. "Sreesanth was bowling in the right areas. Sanath and Dilshan batted really well. Yes, he [Sreesanth] was bit down the way Sanath had hit him."

Adding to India's woes was the abysmal extras count, which read 19 including 10 wides and three no-balls. Without putting his finger on where his bowlers failed Dhoni admitted it could be a concern if not checked in time. "Every extra run hurts. It's always better not to give any extras," he said. "That's a concern but it doesn't usually happen. It might have been an off day for them, perhaps."

After an abandoned game and a loss, Sri Lanka's victory puts them back in the fray with seven points, one behind Australia and two behind India. But both captains agreed that the with amount of matches each team plays in the CB Series everyone has a chance to recover from a setback.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo