Rain ruins series opener
The Kolkata rain ruined Sanath Jayasuriya's parade as the opening game of India's four-match one-day series against Sri Lanka was abandoned after torrential rain at the Eden Gardens. Having been sent in to bat by Rahul Dravid, Sri Lanka had made 102 for 3 from 18.2 overs when a heavy drizzle forced the players off and though the rain stopped, the outfield was far too marshy to risk further play.
In the time available, Jayasuriya had raced to 63 from just 61 balls, and only a fine spell from Munaf Patel prevented it from being all one-way traffic. Dravid's intention was probably to make use of early life in a bone-dry and flat pitch, but his bowlers took a while to get wise to the conditions.
Zaheer Khan started poorly, with Upul Tharanga stroking two beautiful fours in an over that also saw five wides down the legside. And when Munaf, on his first game back after a pallid performance in the Cape Town Test, was imperiously square-driven for four by Jayasuriya, India had every reason to fear the worst.
Both bowlers eventually settled on just short of a good length, but Jayasuriya continued to punish the slightest transgression in either line or length. Munaf was clipped over square leg for four and then glanced fine, before India got the breakthrough that they so desperately needed.
Tharanga had been kept quiet after his initial flourish, and his ill-judged attempt to pull a delivery far too close to the body only ricocheted on to the stumps. The loss of his opening partner didn't cramp Jayasuriya's style though as he flicked and cut Zaheer to the ropes. India's best option was to train their energies at the other end, and Munaf gave them further respite by dismissing the dangerous Mahela Jayawardene. A miscue to mid-on did the trick, though it only brought in the in-form Kumar Sangakkara.
Sreesanth, tussling for one World Cup slot with Munaf, came on in the 11th over and suffered straight away at the hands of the rampant Jayasuriya, who cut him for four and then nonchalantly thumped one over mid-off. Sreesanth could have had his revenge, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni's dive to the left didn't quite carry him as far as the ball which had taken the outer edge of Jayasuriya's bat.
Sangakkara was in no mood to be kind either, and a peachy cover-drive and deft cut left Sreesanth with figures that would have embarrassed a part-time trundler. Still in the third Power Play, Dravid then turned to Harbhajan Singh, but his very first delivery flew off the edge for four.
By then, Jayasuriya had already reached his 62nd half-century, from just 48 balls, with a superb swivel-pull for four off a tiring Munaf. And as the heavens clouded up, India's day brightened up a touch further with Sreesanth inducing an edge from Sangakkara. That reunited the old firm of Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu, but the torrential rain that came down soon after curtailed their chances of making a big impact at this famous old venue.
Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo