India end long wait for a title

India end long wait for a title

CROWNING GLORY: Indian cricketers celebrate their triumph in the triangular one-day series in Colombo on Monday. India defeated Sri Lanka in the final. Reuters

The Little Master authored his 44th one-day hundred as India cantered to a 46-run win over Sri Lanka to clinch their first tri-series title since their triumph in the tri-series in Australia early last year.

Tendulkar’s was an innings that was draped in class, grace and elegance which even the partisan Premadasa crowd couldn’t stop applauding.

Without being brutal, the right-hander dismantled the Sri Lankan attack, which got a taste of its own medicine after being asked to bowl first by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
India piled up 319 for five, and Sri Lanka were bowled out for 273 in the 47th over.

The conditions were not as difficult as India had encountered in their previous two matches. Even so, the runs had to be amassed and a target had to be set. With Tendulkar spearheading the mission, India piled on a total that was difficult to conquer despite the explosive start – 64 off 47 balls – provided by hosts’ opening pair of Tillakaratne Dilshan (42, 29b, 9x4) and Sanath Jayasuriya (36, 29b, 7x4).

India owed their victory as much to the batting performance led by Tendulkar as to a superb exhibition of off-spin bowling by Harbhajan Singh (5/56). Just when it appeared as if Lanka would make a fist of the intimidating target, the Punjab bowler dealt two crucial blows to get rid of Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene to peg the chase back.

With Yusuf Pathan ending Jayasuriya’s assault, India took a stranglehold which they never let go, though a 70-run association between Thilina Kandamby (66) and Chamara Kapugedera did delay the inevitable.

India’s fielding, however, continued to be a big worry, a luxury they can’t afford while defending smaller totals.     

Warming up with a neatly executed cover-drive off Nuwan Kulasekara, Tendulkar (138, 133b, 10x4, 1x6) continued to bat in the sublime manner he began with.

Any indiscretion in length or direction was punished with impunity, though even the good deliveries were sent to the ropes on more than a few occasions.

His drives through the cover were a treat to watch while his flicks off the pad were simply to be marvelled at, as were his consecutive reverse-swept fours off Ajantha Mendis following a slammed six over widish long-off.

The Mumbaikar attempting a third reverse sweep missed the line and Mendis won the leg-before appeal much to his relief.

Rahul Dravid played his part in the opening salvo after Dinesh Kaarthick made way for Virat Kohli. Utilising his elevation to the top, the 37-year-old watched his more celebrated partneSachin Tendulkar raises his bat after scoring a century during the final tri-nation cricket series aganist Sri Lanka, in Colombo on Monday. APr set the pace for the innings.

But the Bangalorean, who later came on to run for a cramping Tendulkar, wasn’t just always content at playing second fiddle.

Opening his account with a cracking cut to the point boundary off Kulasekara, Dravid shuffled between brazen attack and extreme caution, though he ensured India always maintained a run-rate of just over five per over. Reprieved on 24 by Dilshan off Thilan Thushara, Dravid fell jabbing Jayasuriya to Dilshan, this time at short cover, but not before adding 95 runs for the opening wicket and setting the platform from where India launched a massive total.

Dhoni (56, 62b, 3x4) promoted himself to number three and his busy ways ensured that India remained in control of things.

The skipper scripted a significant partnership for the second wicket which thrived more on efficiency rather than flamboyancy.

A handsome 110 came off 115 balls as the innings gathered further steam.

Dhoni fell in his effort to enhance the scoring rate in the batting power play, but Yuvraj Singh didn’t allow the momentum slip away even as Tendulkar switched into top gear against Mendis.

The two realised 71 runs for the third wicket in just 57 balls before Tendulkar departed. The Punjab left-hander then batted freely for his blistering 56 (41b, 6x4, 1x6), cutting out all the escape routes for the Lankans.

INDIA

Dravid c Dilshan b Jayasuriya    39
(56b, 2x4, 1x6)
Tendulkar lbw Mendis    138
(133b, 10x4, 1x6)
Dhoni c Kandamby b Malinga    56
(62b, 3x4)
Yuvraj (not out)    56
 (41b, 6x4, 1x6)
Yusuf c Kapugedera b Thushara    0
(1b)
Raina c Kulasekara b Thushara    8
(6b, 1x4)
Kohli (not out)    2
(2b)

Extras (B-1, NB-1, W-18)    20
Total (for 5 wkts, 50 overs)    319

Fall of wickets: 1-95 (Dravid), 2-205 (Dhoni), 3-276 (Tendulkar), 4-277 (Yusuf), 5-302 (Raina).

Bowling: Kulasekara 8-0-38-0, Tushara 10-0-71-2 (w-8), Malinga 10-0-81-1 (w-5, nb-1), Mendis 10-0-70-1 (w-5), Jayasuriya 9-0-43-1, Mathews 3-0-15-0.
Runs during: Power play 1: 1-10 overs: 52/0; Power play 2: 11-15 overs: 24/0; Power play 3: 35-39 overs: 33/1.

SRI LANKA

Dilshan b Harbhajan    42
(29b, 9x4)
Jayasuriya c Nehra b Pathan    36
(29b, 7x4)
Jayawardene c & b Harbhajan    1
(5b)
Sangakkara hit wkt RP Singh    33
(37b)
Thushara b Ishant    15
(14b, 3x4)
Mathews c Raina b Yuvraj    14
(11b, 1x4, 1x6)
Kandamby b Harbhajan    66
(94b, 4x4)
Kapugedera c Dhoni b Raina    35
(42b, 3x4)
Kulasekara (not out)    9
(9b, 1x4)
Malinga c & b Harbhajan    0
(1b)
Mendis st Dhoni b Harbhajan    7
(10b)
Extras (LB-3, W-11, NB-1)    15
Total (all out, 46.4 overs)     273

Fall of wickets: 1-64 (Dilshan), 2-76 (Jayawardene), 3-85 (Jayasuriya), 4-108 (Thushara), 5-131 (Mathews), 6-182 (Sangakkara), 7-252 (Kapugedera), 8-264 (Kandamby), 9-264 (Malinga).

Bowling: Nehra 7-0-43-0, Ishant 7-0-51-1 (w-1), RP Singh 5-0-34-1 (nb-1), Harbhajan 9.4-0-56-5 (w-3), Pathan 4-0-36-1 (w-7), Yuvraj 6-0-24-1, Raina 8-0-26-1.

Runs during: Power play 1: 1-10 overs: 79/2; Power play 2: 11-15 overs: 35/2; Power play 3: 45-49 overs: 11/3.

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