India v Sri Lanka, CB Series, Perth February 8, 2012

All-round Ashwin stars in hard-fought win

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India 234 for 6 (Kohli 77, Ashwin 30*) beat Sri Lanka 233 for 8 (Chandimal 64, Ashwin 3-32) by four wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

India's feted openers did not cause significant damage and the inexperienced middle order succumbed to old failings, but their bowling allrounders Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin showed admirable poise to steer a wobbly chase home. Virat Kohli's authoritative 77 set the agenda, but India began to falter when he had cramps around the mid-point of the innings. His exit, run out while attempting a hopeless single, left India's lower order 53 tricky runs to get. Ashwin and Jadeja did the rest, braving the Lasith Malinga threat and the epidemic of nerves that had blighted the middle order.

For some reason Sri Lanka did not go hard enough at India after Kohli's fall. Malinga, who yorked the stumps with a slingshot throw from mid-on to catch a diving Kohli short in the 36th over, had four overs left. Mahela Jayawardene brought his trump card on quickly, but didn't provide him with the attacking fields the situation demanded. Malinga was off after two quick overs that were handled well, and by the time he returned for the 45th over, India needed only 17 more. It was too late - Ashwin and Jadeja had played themselves in, and ticked the runs away with composure.

The only moment of indiscretion came when India needed one to win. Ashwin tried to loft Angelo Mathews down the ground and hit it straight up in the air. Three men converged, and mid-off, who should have taken it easily, backed off following some miscommunication, as India scrambled through for the win. The fielder at mid-off was Malinga.

The batting effort capped Ashwin's best day on tour, when he reduced his pace, tossed the ball up, and extracted a lot more spin than is the norm in Perth. He came into the attack at an ideal moment, soon after Zaheer Khan had dismissed Kumar Sangakkara in the 17th over with an away seamer. That was Zaheer's second moment of excellence against a left-hand batsman, after he took just 10 balls in his opening spell to work over Upul Tharanga. Thereafter, Ashwin suffocated Sri Lanka's momentum in partnership with Zaheer. Between them, they reaped combined returns of 20-2-76-5. That included 14 of the 20 Powerplay overs, which yielded 4 for 42.

Tillakaratne Dilshan fought through Zaheer's opening burst, and was primed to take off after beavering to 48, but gifted his wicket away. Dinesh Chandimal took charge, walking across his stumps to clip Praveen fine, steering with soft hands into the covers and setting himself up early for swings to the leg side. He had added 52 in 11.2 overs with Jayawardene, at which point Ashwin began to wield his influence.

The carom ball was scarcely used, as Ashwin focused on loop, drift and traditional turn to good effect. He first induced Jayawardene to top-edge a sweep to fine leg in the batting Powerplay. He then dented hopes of a quick recovery by weaving a sharp offbreak past Thisara Perera, before dismissing Chandimal in the 44th over. That put paid to Sri Lanka's prospects of a flying finish, though Mathews slogged hard and ran harder to provide some late succour.

Sri Lanka's all-seam attack, in contrast to their opponents earlier in the day, attempted to use pace and bounce to unsettle India. Virender Sehwag perished attempting his patent upper cut, which did not carry beyond third man. Sachin Tendulkar's fans enjoyed 48 runs of sublime batting, before he once again succumbed without completing the most eagerly anticipated century in cricket history. Until he played on to Mathews, attempting a cheeky dab to third man, Tendulkar lined up a bunch of pleasing shots, with head stationary and feet moving well. A firm front-foot push off Malinga was as good as any stroke played through the day, until Kohli began to dazzle.

Kohli imperiously flicked his second ball through square leg for four. The extra pace on the pitch seemed to play into Kohli's hands, as he pranced into position early to play attacking shots on either side of the pitch. His control was epitomised by the ease with which he pulled a pacy Dhammika Prasad bumper through square leg. Rohit Sharma's lethargic movements at the other end were only accentuated by Kohli's quick feet and hands.

India were coasting when Rohit played a loose cut to be caught at point. Suresh Raina kept the flag aflutter with a couple of pleasing cover drives, but the threat of the short ball was imminently around the corner. With Kohli cramping, Raina took it upon himself to go for the boundaries, and holed out while trying to pull Mathews. MS Dhoni too returned without making a dent, late on a pull that spiralled to mid-on. When Kohli ran himself out, India had lost three big wickets for 24 in 3.5 overs. Unfortunately for Sri Lanka, that was the last time Malinga hit the stumps.

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • raulraj on February 11, 2012, 5:49 GMT

    1) sachin 2) Sehwag 3) Kohli 4) dhoni 5) rohit 6) Raina 7) Jadeja 8) Irfan 9) Ashwin 10) Zaheer 11) Yadav. Let sachin and sehwag find their touch. IRFAN WILL MAKE HUGE DIFFERENCE.MY TEAM ONCE YUVI GETS BETTER:1 sachin 2 (c) sehwag 3 kohli 4 rohit 5 Yuvraj 6 raina 7 D karthik 8 irfan 9 Harbhajan 10 yadav 11 Zaheer

  • Sakthiivel on February 10, 2012, 10:40 GMT

    @sharkwolf : Yes always Pak had better Blowers, but they never have consistent batters who can win matches. Without good quality batsmen matches cant be won.

  • Al_Bundy1 on February 9, 2012, 23:09 GMT

    Ashwin batted really well in last ODI against Sri Lanka. Maybe he can open the batting for India and we can send 2 seniors to retirement home? That will also open up a spot for Irfan Pathan. Certainly Irfan can score more than 10 runs Sehwag score, and more than 2 runs that Gambhir and Tendulkar scored in ODI against Australia. Suresh Raina has gotten enough chances in the last 5 years. It's time he made way for Manoj Tiwary.

  • WellwisherINDIA on February 9, 2012, 21:53 GMT

    ASHWIN GETS LOT OF PRAISES, EVERY ONE FORGETS ONE THING ,HE HAD MATCH WINNING PERFORMANCE AGAINST SRILANKA, HE HASN'T PERFORMED WELL AGAINST AUSTRALIA YET, specially in his bowling

  • ssenthil on February 9, 2012, 14:38 GMT

    Sehwag vs Australia in ODI:

    Played 23 Matches 500 runs at 21.73 Avg and 87.10 SR with a HS of 65 and Only 2 Fifties

    Sehwag vs Australia in Australia in ODI:

    Played 10 Matches 180 runs at 18 Avg and 82.19 SR with a HS of 37 without any Fifty. This is his history against Australia since 2001 across 11 completed years.

  • dummy4fb on February 9, 2012, 13:41 GMT

    It defied cricketing loghic when many were after Ashwin's head before Perth ODI. Sparing the odd match he has been containing the opposition in all mataches even if it is batting powerpllay No spinner can take 3 wickets in every match. His bowling against Srilanka was a treat to watch with classical loop, flight and bounce which made the real difference between two teams Batting & composure of Jadeja and Ashwin would have done even Lakshman and Dravid proud--These two budding allrounders are assets for ODIs Many do not know Ashwin was opener for the State team in his state's junior team Request for criticism on cricketing merits and balanced view and not through glasses tinted with CSK hatred

  • sharkwolf on February 9, 2012, 13:10 GMT

    Dont you think that Paksitan seems to be only side in sub-continent which posses good/quality bowlers

  • dummy4fb on February 9, 2012, 12:23 GMT

    i think after australia series call to zimbabwe for 7 one day in india which tendulkar made his 100"s hundred.

  • charithde.84 on February 9, 2012, 11:40 GMT

    I guess Sri Lanka should look to kick out India and play the final with Australia. Its always better to play a final with a good side. India is overated and their status is shown now. They are not as good as before. So hope Sri Lanka can kick them off.

  • Kangroos.Proteas.Monkeys.Lions on February 9, 2012, 11:30 GMT

    Sri Lankans shared the honors when they prevented tendulkar to a fifty even. Winning the match was also important but they are in the worst form of their life and continued it against India. 30 runs short they were otherwise things would have been different. It also looked that SL can bounce back agasint India.

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