Sri Lanka soar high on Sanga wings

Dhawan, Jadeja efforts in vain as India stumble

Sri Lanka soar high on Sanga wings

 Experienced Kumar Sangakkara showed the way with a breathtaking 84-ball 103 as Sri Lanka recovered from a middle-order batting collapse to pull off a thrilling two-wicket victory over India in the Asia Cup here on Friday.

Chasing 265 for win, the Islanders rode on the 36-year-old’s masterclass to complete the task with four balls to spare at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium.  The win helped Sri Lanka jump to the top of the table in the five-nation continental tournament.
With Shikhar Dhawan (94) and Virat Kohli (48) taking India to 264 for nine after being sent into bat, Sri Lanka were cruising at 134 for one after the butterfingered Indian fielders dropped three catches.

But Ravindra Jadeja, who scalped two wickets in two balls en route 3/30 and Ravichandran Ashwin (2/42), brought back the Indians. However, Sangakkara stood firm till the penultimate over, in the process striking 12 boundaries and a six.
Continuing his dream run in Bangladesh that include one triple century, three centuries and two half-centuries across Test and ODI formats, Sangakkara looked in complete control even as he lacked support at the other end, after the departure of Kusal Perera (64).

With his team under pressure, the experienced campaigner ensured that he took Sri Lanka close to the target as he completed his 18th ODI century with a boundary in 83 balls, only to be dismissed by Mohammed Shami off the next ball. By the time he was dismissed, the Lankans were close to the finishing line, requiring seven runs from nine balls.

With the scores levelled in the penultimate over, it was as good as over for India as they dropped their fourth catch, this time Dhawan fumbling at mid-off.
Earlier, Ajantha Mendis returned to haunt India as they were restricted to a modest total. Dhawan and Kohli led India’s recovery in a 97-run second wicket partnership before Mendis struck.

The spinner castled Kohli and Dhawan with his carrom ball en route figures of 4/60 while off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake scalped 3/41 as the much talked-about India’s newlook  middle-order struggled in the absence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. 

Ajinkya Rahane (22) and Ambati Rayudu (18) looked good but could not convert their starts while Stuart Binny did not trouble the scorers after being packed off for a nought.

In a match of several twists and turns, Sri Lanka had the upper hand to begin the 265-run chase as India dropped three catches including two by Jadeja and one by Rahane.

Making full use of India’s sloppy fielding, the in-form opening duo of Perera and Thirimanne gave the Lankans a flying start, before Ashwin and Jadeja struck.
India had limited spin resources with two specialists in Ashwin and Jadeja and Kohli had to squeeze in five overs from Rohit Sharma’s part-time offspin as medium pacer Binny could not make any impact.

The duo finished their respective quotas in the 45th over, with Sri Lanka needing 44 from 30 balls. Making amends for his two dropped catches, Jadeja turned the match around for India with two wickets in two balls. 

After the comedy of errors in the first hour’s play, India were never in the picture and looked to have given up in their body language.  It seemed India were never able to recover from their first jolt — literally when Dhawan and Rahane, two sharp fielders, chased mindlessly for a skier, only to see the ball spill past the boundary.

Shami was unfortunate once again when, in his next over, last match’s centurion Thirimanne got a reprieve from a diving Jadeja at cover.

Missed opportunities was to be the story of the rest of the match.

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