Sri Lanka v India, 3rd ODI, Colombo July 28, 2012

India take 2-1 lead after close finish


India 288 for 5 (Gambhir 102, Raina 65*) beat Sri Lanka 286 for 5 (Sangakkara 73, Mathews 71*, Jayawardene 65) by 5 wickets

After 28 consecutive wins in home ODIs when they've scored at least 250 batting first, Sri Lanka's amazing run was ended in a nailbiter at the Premadasa. Riding on a superbly paced hundred by Gautam Gambhir, India overcame mid-innings wobbles, including losing two wickets off successive balls, as Suresh Raina - helped along by Irfan Pathan - did the finishing job to perfection. India now lead the five-match series 2-1.

In conditions that offered an even contest between bat and ball, and there were several memorable performances, with fortunes swaying either way several times, till the Raina-Irfan partnership decisively swung it India's way. India held the early ascendancy in the match with three quick wickets, but a top-notch 121-run stand for the fourth wicket between Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene edged it in Sri Lanka's favour. Angelo Mathews and Jeevan Mendis further hammered home the advantage with a104-run partnership, including 97 off the last ten, as India's bowling frailties at the death were exposed again. Then, when India's chase appeared on course, Lasith Malinga, who historically hasn't had such a happy time against them, struck twice with the first two balls of the batting Powerplay, at a time when India were fairly comfortably placed, needing 107 off 90 with eight wickets in hand, with MS Dhoni and Gambhir well set. And when Gambhir was found short by a direct hit from Isuru Udana - his one redeeming act on another disappointing bowling day - India seemed to have well and truly lost their way.

The final twist in the tale, though, was still to come. When Pathan joined Raina, the task was steep - 91 runs in 12 overs, with not much batting to come. At that stage, though, Malinga, who had three overs to spare, was pulled out of the attack with three of his overs still in hand; in retrospect, another over at that stage, with both batsmenrelatively new to the crease, might have been worth the risk.

With Malinga not in the attack, both batsmen eked out the runs through intended and unintended methods - flicks, edges, outside edges, inside edges all followed, but crucially for India, they all added to the total and brought down the target. Raina then launched into his trademark meaty hoicks to leg, bringing up his half-century with one such stunning six over long-on off Malinga in the 46th. With both batsmen getting a couple of fours through third man in Malinga's previous over, the asking rate had suddenly come down to seven. India were back in control, and this time they didn't let go.

Till the 36th over of the chase, it seemed India's win might be achieved with far lesser drama, with Gambhir and Virat Kohli - their trusted pair in a run-chase, putting together 105 in quick time after the early loss of Virender Sehwag. Gambhir's was a masterclass, as he took charge of the chase from the start, upper-cutting Malinga in the first over, and then regularly finding the boundaries with square-drives and cuts. Against the spinners, he was always in his comfort zone, chipping into the outfield for twos to stay within touching distance of the asking rate.

Sri Lanka's innings was a story of two high-quality partnerships. Jayawardene's decision to bat first at a venue where recent results have favoured the team chasing seemed to have backfired when ZaheerKhan and Irfan reduced them to 20 for 3. Both bowlers made excellent use of the bounce and seam movement on offer, regularly beating the bat. The wickets followed soon, as Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga and Dinesh Chandimal all succumbed early.

That's when the class of Sangakkara and Jayawardene shone through. In testing conditions, where strokeplay wasn't easy against the new ball, both batsmen settled in quickly, though Jayawardene was more circumspect early. Sangakkara unfurled a couple of classy drives - straight and square - and also defended expertly, playing with soft hands, into the gaps, for ones and twos. His one testing moment came in the 15th over, when a short one from Ashok Dinda struck him on his right glove; Sangakkara continued batting, but the injury was later diagnosed as a fracture. Jayawardene, meanwhile, settled in and showed his range and silken touch, playing lofted drives on the off side and deft late-cuts off Rahul Sharma, whose extra pace suited him perfectly.

The century partnership duly came up - it was their fifth India, and only one pair has more. They both looked good to post individual hundreds too, but neither did.

When Sangakkara fell in the batting Powerplay, it seemed India had wrested the initiative again, but their slog-over bowling weakness, and some clever, enterprising batting from Mathews and Jeevan Mendis, meant Sri Lanka were the happier team at the break. Mathews had some luck when he was caught-behind off an Irfan no-ball when on 33, but there was also plenty of smart cricket from both. Mendis, brought into the team to replace Lahiru Thirimanne, justified that selection with an enterprising knock, reverse-sweeping Ashwin and then smashing Dinda's friendly short ball over midwicket for the only six of the innings. Mathews was equally enterprising, moving to leg and making room to spank the medium-pacers through the offside.

It seemed their heroics towards the end would be enough, but India's three left-hand batsmen then came to the party.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andy on July 31, 2012, 19:44 GMT

    @Ahmad Uetian: You BD fans never stop this stats game do u ? Win a single match against India in 5 years and start comparing, win a single match against SL in 6 - 7 years and compare against them, simply ridiculous. Indian bowling was not at its best in Asia Cup. I was indeed surprised with the team selection for Asia Cup, they didn't have a proper backup all the bowlers selected were of similar genre - swing bowlers with no pace, there had to be a bowler with a little difference that could have helped the team but alas that didn't happen. But if you think BD bowling is really better than India, may god bless you sire. Shakib is the only decent bowler I reckon in BD as far as I consider, Mortaza is wayward, the others can be easily hit as well. But hell yeah, Indian bowlers aren't too far away from BD bowler's standards, its the batting that saves them - its been the case for years both in home & away matches unless few rare cases. India always enjoyed strong batting line up for ages.

  • narsimha on July 31, 2012, 4:31 GMT

    AHMADUAETEAN-I wont agree ,the bowling which could not defend 330+ is weakest & over hyped .

  • Dummy4 on July 30, 2012, 23:03 GMT

    I agree with those why say this yet again series is boring in fact I have checked that these two teams have played eachother every year for the past 5 or 6 years I think plain ridiculous.

  • Dummy4 on July 30, 2012, 18:16 GMT

    @india-the-worldchampions ........Indian bowling is actually worldwide the weakest........It is significantly weaker than Ban...........If you compare apples against apples then in ASIA CUP, Indian bowling received 330 vs Pk 250 vs Sl and 290vs Ban; Sl received 240 vs Pk, 200 vs Ban; Ban received 250 & 240 vs Pk & 200 vs Sl; Pk received 240 vs SL & Ban on same pitches - Indian bowling received the highest scores by big margin against all teams ........Hence Indian bowling is much weaker than even Ban. ...........But Ind scored highest against all teams in same pitches ......Hence Indian batting is the best.................That is why all Indian games are extremely high scoring on the same pitches which other team games have avg scores and people falsely perceive than pitches on which India play are batting friendly

  • Tuan on July 30, 2012, 16:58 GMT

    upsets happen... and this seems a biggest upset... but i wonder why mahela didn't allow dilshan to bowl his off spinners, where it would be handy when two lefties were batting......

  • Miles on July 30, 2012, 15:57 GMT

    India won this match not because of Pathan and Raina doing a special Job. They always do their job well. India won because the SL captain was very naive. Mahela forgot to use the spinners soon after last power play(At Over no:40). Yes, Spinners cannot bowl the last 5 overs as it is dangerous. But bowling the spinners for at least 3-4 overs at the 40 to 44th over would have put pressure on Pathan and Raina as they were new to the crease. Switching from spinners to fast bowlers requires even more time to settledown for new batsmen.Come-on Mahela, you should know these things after many years of leadership. Why do our team SL gives away winning matches by not adjusting to the match conditions?

  • Srinivas on July 30, 2012, 11:51 GMT

    For God's sake, stop this tour. How many more series should we play with them?

  • Vempaty on July 30, 2012, 11:18 GMT

    Sehwag has completed his contribution to the team for the series in the first ODI.He will continue to play irresponsibly in the remaining matches.It is surprising Rohit inspite of his poor show in the West Indies has been preferred to Rahane who did reasonably well.I would suggest Rohit and Sehwag be dropped for the last two matches and opportunity given to Manoj Tiwary and Rahane.Incidentally both are brilliant fielders.

  • Perumal on July 30, 2012, 10:59 GMT

    The second ODI was diaster for the indians. But had india been batting second definitely india would have won in the second ODI too. Before indian batmen could understand the pitch Lankans finished the game. They didnt have enough to recover from the early blows. Lankans are good at captializing when you are weak or in difficult situation. When situation favours they make full use of it and that too if non test playing gets in their hands, they will come out with amazing records. Playing against Srilanka is very simple, do not contract when they are putting pressure on you. Attack... thats the best way to crush them. I never seen srilanka to pull the match on their side when the opponent is going strong and stronger. They call themselves lions but show hyena's attitude. Greener or Flat pitch indians are always on top of the Lankans. It s really funny when SL fans blames the pitch whenever india wins. It is urhome ground and curators must be preparing the pitches to favor their home tm

  • narsimha on July 30, 2012, 10:29 GMT

    WAHEED1233- Yaa winning is upset , than what about u r teams performence in SL in recently concluded series lost in all formets except winning just one odi i think that was great upset .

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