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The Bulletin by Sriram Veera
May 30, 2010
What stood out was the ease with which India overhauled Sri Lanka's 242, with nearly seven overs to spare. Virat Kohli played a mature hand and Rohit Sharma overcame moments of impetuousness to hit a delightful hundred, his second successive effort of the tournament, as the pair sparkled in a 154-run partnership to charge India to a facile win.
It has to be said, though, that it was a good toss to win. Overnight rain had left enough moisture on the pitch in the first half of the day to offer assistance to the seamers and also to the spinners. And Sri Lanka were forced to adopt a brand of cricket that smelt of 80s: Start slowly, build momentum in the middle overs, reach a run-rate of four by the 40th, and try to hit out in the end. They ended up on 242, which wasn't a bad effort, but the conditions eased up in the afternoon and the Indians played very sensibly to overhaul the target with ease.
Nearly all the Indian batsmen, barring Rohit, who had brief moments of rashness, eschewed flamboyance for a risk-free approach. Kohli in particular. There was just one shot in anger when Kohli put away a short googly from Ajantha Mendis to the midwicket boundary. For the most part, he dealt in nudged singles as he used his wrists to ping the vacant spaces. He used the width of the crease well, going either fully back or leaning forward, to tackle the different lengths. Later, he unfurled the big shots: an inside-out hit, a pulled boundary and whippy on-drive.
Unlike Kohli, Rohit took more risks. Some appeared almost needless, especially at the start. He rushed down the track for a slog against Thissara Perera, nearly hit Mendis for a catch to long-on and drove Suraj Randiv uppishly on a few occasions. However, he survived those iffy moments to settle down to play a few typically stylish hits. Two stood out for their skill and beauty: He sashayed down the track and lifted Randiv inside-out over covers. He then flicked Perera from just outside off stump wide of mid-on for a gorgeous boundary. He later pulled Dilhara Fernando and lofted Randiv for sixes and brought up his ton with a cut against Mendis. It was 47 for 2 when he had joined Kohli and he led India to a victory with plenty to spare.
If India had Rohit and Kohli, Sri Lanka's innings was all about Tillakaratne Dilshan and Angelo Mathews. Dilshan had laid the platform with an out-of-character 61 before Mathews showed characteristic maturity during his 75, which led Sri Lanka's charge.
It was yet another cool and collected innings from the rapidly-maturing Mathews. He was on 51 at the start of the batting Powerplay, which was taken at the 43rd over, and had only hit two boundaries until then. Amit Mishra slipped in couple of long-hops and Mathews targeted the midwicket boundary for a six and a four. The pitch and the situation had demanded he play risk-free cricket and he duly obliged. For the main part, he drove, nudged and worked the angles to rotate strike. He used his height to get forward and smother the turn and his wrists to nudge spinning deliveries for singles. And it was only during the final assault that he brought out the big shots: the inside-out lofted drive over covers, the fierce pull and the slog-sweeps were unfurled as he led Sri Lanka towards 250.
The conditions demanded such an approach: The medium-pacers got movement and also exploited the two-paced nature of the wicket and the spinners found generous turn to keep the batsmen quiet. Not only Mathews but Dilshan also adopted a sensible approach, though perhaps it might have been dictated by his recent run of poor form.
It wasn't the Dilshan we have come to know. He hit his first boundary off his 35th ball and it wasn't until his 50th delivery that he chose to rush down the track to play a big shot. It was his abstinence against the new ball that really stood out, though. There weren't many flamboyant on-the-up hits, dashes down the track or attempts to force the pace. He did try to play couple of aggressive shots against the new ball but, when he found that he was mis-timing them, he quickly changed tack and started to work the angles.
It was looking good for Sri Lanka but Dilshan ran himself out in the 24th over to allow India to come back into the game. He turned Mishra to midwicket, hesitated before deciding to go for the single, and couldn't beat the throw from Rohit Sharma. It proved to be the turning point of the game; it meant the difference between Sri Lanka reaching 275 and ending up, as they did, with less than 250.
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