Sri Lanka v India, 5th ODI, Pallekele August 4, 2012

India rise to No. 2 with narrow win


India 294 for 7 (Gambhir 88, Tiwary 65, Dhoni 58, Malinga 3-64) beat Sri Lanka 274 (Thirimanne 77, Mendis 72, Irfan 5-61) by 20 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

It was a low-key series that was overshadowed by the Olympics, but it resulted in a dramatic change in the rankings as India climbed up to No. 2 after shutting out Sri Lanka 4-1. India seemed to have the final one-dayer in the bag after running up 294 and then reducing Sri Lanka to 102 for 5, but a spirited stand between the inexperienced Lahiru Thirimanne and Jeevan Mendis kept the visitors sweating till the end.

Irfan Pathan more or less guaranteed the result in the 43rd over as he removed Mendis and Thisara Perera on his way to his second ODI five-for, capping a match in which he had already made an important contribution with the bat. A late replacement for the injured Vinay Kumar, Irfan has sealed his place as a bowling allrounder with his eight wickets at 26.37 and two vital performances with the bat.

He troubled Sri Lanka in his first over itself, getting Tillakaratne Dilshan to hole out to third man. In the absence of the injured Kumar Sangakkara and the resting Mahela Jayawardene - the first time in two years that the pair were missing an ODI - Dilshan had a big role to play, but fell for a duck.

Sri Lanka maintained a scorching pace early on, but lost their way once Upul Tharanga chipped a catch to cover in the eighth over. Dinesh Chandimal's forgettable series continued as he fell lbw to Ashok Dinda for 8, Angelo Mathews' first innings as one-day captain was ended by a direct hit from Manoj Tiwary, and Chamara Kapugedera wasted his umpteenth international comeback, walking after an lbw appeal.

That looked like game, set and match India but Sri Lanka weren't done yet. Thirimanne played his second responsible knock at No. 3 in five days, and Jeevan Mendis continued to prompt questions over why he had been offered such scattered opportunities with the national team so far after another battling innings. The two patiently resurrected the innings, and through some sensible cricket brought Sri Lanka back into the game, and when the part-time spin of Manoj Tiwary was caned for 14 in the 34th over, Sri Lanka were 187 for 5. With the big-hitting Perera still to come, they had a great chance of pulling off a consolation comeback victory.

Thirimanne, though, was run-out after a mix-up, and though Mendis kept Sri Lanka afloat, Perera slugged a catch to deep point. When Mendis' outstanding innings ended on 72 with a nick to the keeper off Irfan, Sri Lanka's hopes evaporated.

India's top order gave a better account of themselves than Sri Lanka's. There were half-centuries for Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni but the most significant innings in the dead rubber could be Manoj Tiwary's 65. For the second match in a row, he turned in a solid performance, strengthening his credentials for a hotly contested spot in the India's middle-order, most likely at the expense of Rohit Sharma.

Rohit, given a remarkably long rope by the team management, flopped for the fifth game in a row; his tally of 13 runs in the series is the lowest by a specialist India batsman in a five-match series and the chorus for his axing is only going to get louder.

Tiwary's debut was famously delayed by a shoulder injury in 2007, and he has had seven ODIs in the five years since. A match-winning century in another dead rubber last December only led to a long spell on the bench, but a four-for with some part-time leg spin in the previous match and a steadying 110-run partnership with Gambhir should earn him a few matches in the upcoming New Zealand series at home.

For the second time in three games, Malinga began an over in the batting Powerplay with two wickets in two balls, as he removed Tiwary and then the in-form Suresh Raina as India slid to 197 for 5. But, as in the third ODI, Irfan showed off his improved batting, and gave the specialist batsman enough of the strike to take apart the Sri Lanka bowling. That day it had been Raina, today it was Dhoni, who has had little to do in this series as players above him in the order have repeatedly done the job for the side. Dhoni began by carving Malinga for consecutive boundaries through cover and a typically busy innings, interspersed with boundaries, helped India take 75 off the final 10 overs.

While Dhoni piloted India at the end, Gambhir did it at the start. Even as Ajinkya Rahane failed to grab his chance, Virat Kohli had a rare failure and Rohit's horror run extended, Gambhir was unperturbed. Once again, he managed to score at almost a run a ball without seeming to play any big hits as he made his way to his third fifty-plus score of the series. He was closing in on his seventh ODI hundred against Sri Lanka before he was done in by the extra bounce from Senanayake.

It didn't matter, though as Irfan and Dhoni powered India to a big score, one which proved too tall for an inexperienced Sri Lanka line-up.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sai on August 7, 2012, 18:24 GMT

    Wow, what a series win by India! I knew that our men in blue would come back, and they did in style! Winning against SL in SL is never easy, and we did so, dominating! That was totally unexpected, I thought it would be a close series, but SL were no match for our batsmen. They only performed well in that solitary ODI, but that was because of the pitch. Now that the boring SL vs Ind series is over, time to move on to NZ series! I'm excited at the young talent India have, this team has the potential to be at the top in all formats for a long time. Mark my words. I love my India.

  • Indian on August 7, 2012, 9:26 GMT

    Olympics is nonsense... waste of time and money.

  • Dummy4 on August 6, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    @ nachami ..........Good bowlers even today have fantastic economies: Murali had 3.9 Saeed Ajmal has 4.2 ....Sunil Narine has 3.7, Stein destroyed 5 Indian batsmen for mere 15 runs in WC match on same so called flat Indian pitch Tendulkar had got 115 at S/R 120. Just as Sachin got out all of a sudden y pitch became bowler friendly while it gave 300 runs otherwise in each was sheer skill of Stein.........One thing is common in all these bowlers is that they all are very skillful in their art......Just that most modern bowlers are not willing to develop skills so avg scores in matches are going high and people are falsely blaming bats and pitches...If as a bowler you demonstrate quality then only a quality batsman can hit you.......Additionally SL batting is proving v weak NOW THEY MUST BE REGRETTING EARLIER DEPARTURE OF JAYASURIA..You cannot replace legend so easily while he is there everyone asks for his retirement but once he is gone the void is huge ..Learn lesson guys

  • Dummy4 on August 6, 2012, 19:50 GMT

    @Gihan Obeyesekere - If this series is meaningless, then how come you come here and posting a comment at cricinfo site. Really funny about you and your meaningless comment.

  • Prashan on August 6, 2012, 15:58 GMT

    @cricketfannik, Sangakkara has double tons against major test teams and not Bangladesh. Check your facts.

  • cool on August 6, 2012, 14:27 GMT

    @Sinhaya: I don't know which matches are you referring to, but NZ has yet to beat India in India for atleast 20 years now... and talk head-to-head instead of saying ABC has beaten India and SL has beaten ABC... For what so ever reasons, the fact still remains, SL has not won a bilateral series against India since 1997 and yet to win a single test in India against India.

  • Dummy4 on August 6, 2012, 12:53 GMT

    meaningless series who cares about it, watch the greatest sporting event on earth the Olympics...

  • kardam on August 6, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    india were not at their best in eng and australia but it happens you cant expect to win every ssingle game and sometimes you do get beat by a big margin but come on your home is meant to be youtr fortress you are meant to dominate at home, SL fans worry about your away record+ your home doesnt seem to be good either, eng fans why dont you worry about your own test match against south africa looks like your going to be knocked off your undeserved 1st spot and Aus fans you maybe number 1 now but india have a season full of games at home and soon thye will be No 1. all these haters are just jealous because india are currently doing well, eng fans are jealous india is ahead of them and Australia fans are scared india will dethrone them. I am proud to be an indian fan ans to the people ahting on india, please continue because gating only drives a person more and more! i am proud to be an indian and an india cricket fan

  • Aditya on August 6, 2012, 11:43 GMT

    Indian ODI ranking and Test Team ranking seems to be in reverse proportion!

  • Praveen on August 6, 2012, 11:22 GMT

    All Indian batsmen need to re-check their batting technique and fix it sooner. It would be ideal if they can show improvements in T20 game played tomorrow. Especially these 3 Indian batsmen Sehwag, Virat Kohli, and Rohit need to check their batting techniques and fix mistakes. It may surprise many that i have mentioned Virat Kohli, but it is true that he needs to check his batting. Virat Kohli is getting into awkward position when ball is coming into him, and thus giving high chance for LBW. Kohli narrowly missed getting out on two occasions. Kohli should thus fix it soon. And Sehwag offside drive going aerial and also unable to play incoming deliveries need to fixed and Rohit is perfect example of how you should not play strokes. He need to play with straight bat and also understand that rotating strike is important when not in form. He need to fix his batting as well as fitness.

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