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July 31, 2012
170 runs, avg. 56.66
Gambhir improved with every game and it was in the third ODI that he blossomed. Chasing 287 at the Premadasa stadium, Gambhir showed his intent in the first over as he guided Lasith Malinga smartly over the slips and after the wicket of Sehwag, dominated a 105-run partnership with Virat Kohli. But it was his mastery over Sri Lanka's spinners that kept India abreast with the required-rate. Gambhir kept rotating the strike and attacked when required brought up his 11th hundred to set up the platform for India to complete the tallest chase against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka.
Gambhir found his groove while scoring 65 in India's batting collapse in the second ODI. He started solidly with two consecutive boundaries off Malinga. But things were to go pear-shaped for India as wickets went in a heap and soon Gambhir was in the company of No. 6 MS Dhoni within the first 10 overs. In conditions that favoured the seam bowlers, Gambhir manoeuvered the ball around to go past his half-century to set a template for negotiating the conditions while wickets kept tumbling at the other end.
7 wickets, avg. 20.85
44 runs, strike-rate 157.14
Perera picked up 11 wickets in the recent ODI series against Pakistan and he carried over the form to the India series. In the first ODI, when Sri Lanka's bowlers struggled to stem the flow of runs, Perera managed to prize out three key wickets. During the chase that had gone off boil, Perera showed his value as a batsman by raising brief hopes with an enterprising 28-ball 44.
But it was in the second ODI where he did real damage. India had smoothly moved to 31 for no loss after three overs when Perera was introduced. He bowled five tight deliveries to Virender Sehwag, and in the sixth, he took a sharp reflex catch to surprise Sehwag. Wicket maiden. Next over, he lured the in-form Virat Kohli to edge a ball that cut away from the pitch. Another wicket maiden. In the third over, he got Suresh Raina and could have had MS Dhoni had Angelo Mathews held on to a regulation slips catch. Third wicket maiden. His three consecutive wicket-maidens put India into a shock from which they didn't recover that day, crashing to a nine-wicket defeat.
Kumar Sangakkara, 206 runs
Suresh Raina, 116 runs
Sangakkara played two big innings, both of which unfortunately failed to win the game. In the first match, he scored a big hundred but ran out of support from other batsmen. But in the third game, he resurrected Sri Lanka from an early innings wobble with an attractive 73. Fifty of those runs came after his hand injury when he was hit by an Ashok Dinda bouncer.
Suresh Raina doesn't get many chances when India's strong top-order fires. But he makes most of the limited opportunities. In the first ODI, he scored a quick 50 to lift India past 300-run mark, but his nerveless unbeaten 65 in the third ODI helped India take the lead in the five-match series
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Devashish Fuloria
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