Sri Lanka ride on Dilshan hundred

Dhoni century goes in vain as India suffer three-wicket defeat in another high-scoring game

Sri Lanka ride on Dilshan hundred


 Half-way through the Indian innings, the total read 125 for three but the last 15 overs yielded 134 runs as the hosts stacked up 301 for seven as Mahendra Singh Dhoni (107, 111b, 8x4, 2x6) and Suresh Raina (68, 55b, 4x4, 3x6) went hammer and tongs to provide a healthy total for his bowlers to defend. But with Tillakaratne Dilshan (123, 113b, 12x4, 2x6) going one better, Lanka overhauled the target in 49.1 overs with three wickets to spare in the second one-day international at the Vidarbha Cricket Association’s Jamtha stadium here on Friday.

 The match, however, wasn’t without its twists and turns. Just when it appeared the visitors will cruise to victory, Ashish Nehra produced a peach of a delivery to shatter Dilshan’s defences. Fellow left-arm seamer Zaheer then fired out Mahela Jaywardene, Thilina Kandamby and Chamara Kapugedera to bring the game on an even keel. But Angelo Mathews (37 not out) held his nerve to help Lanka level the five match series going into Cuttack’s third game on Monday.

 Dilshan and Upul Tharanga were off to a frenetic start smashing all the bowlers they faced out of the attack. It was Tharanga who initiated the carnage with three fours off Praveen Kumar’s second over but after that the left-hander was reduced to a silent spectator as Dilshan unleashed the havoc to reach his half-century in just 31 balls helping Lanka take 81 off the first Power Play and setting a perfect base to build on for the batsman that followed.

Earlier, Virender Sehwag’s first-ball four off Chanaka Welegedara had promised another run riot, but the right-hander’s dismissal off the fourth ball of the innings ensured India went at a pace considerably slower than in Rajkot. The unfortunate run-out of Gautam Gambhir, who ran into a backing-up Welegedara to fall short of the crease, further hampered their progress.

Sachin Tendulkar, celebrating his 20th year in one-day cricket, combined well with a promoted Virat Kohli (54, 65b, 7x4) to lift India to 81 before he stepped out to whack Ajantha Mendis out of the park and missed the line to be stumped by Kumar Sangakkara. Until that moment the star batsman looked determined to make his two decades of cricket in the shorter version memorable with a big one. Without displaying the same streak of aggression of the first one-dayer, the right-hander kept the score board ticking along with an impressive Kohli.

The Delhi lad made his second chance in the series count with a well-crafted half-century at a time when the hosts were looking to consolidate after two of their top-order batsmen had returned to the pavilion.
He got off with an elegantly flicked four off Angelo Mathews and continued in the same vein displaying a rare calmness and maturity through his innings.
Looking at ease Kohli looked set for a big knock when he played across the line to become the first international victim of another debutant and off-spinner Suraj Randiv (3/51).

 After Kohli’s exit, Dhoni and Raina joined hands to send the Lankan attack on a leather hunt with some furious hitting. The two began their innings nudging and pushing the ball around before replacing them with thwacks and swats. With lady luck on his side, Dhoni, who was let off on at least three occasions, strode his way to a second successive century on this ground while Raina provided the impetus to the innings with a swashbuckling half-cntury. A whopping 102 runs came off the last ten overs as the left-right combination lay into the Lankan attack. Crunching fours and towering sixes came in torrents as India stacked up another big total despite the shaky start. But the Lankan batsmen held sway from the start to finish on the right end of the result.  

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