Rayudu hundred studs India win

Rayudu hundred studs India win

When Ambati Thirupathi Rayudu walked in at the dismissal of Ajinkya Rahane, the capacity crowd erupted in a huge roar only to fall silent immediately after realising that it wasn’t stand-in skipper Virat Kohli.

Promoted to number three, however, the 29-year-old would have made the original number three, Kohli, proud as he produced his maiden one-day international hundred (121 n.o., 118b, 10x4, 4x6) to help India script a comprehensive six-wicket win over Sri Lanka and take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.

Having posted a fighting 274/8, thanks largely to a battling 92 n.o. (101b, 10x4, 1x6) by skipper Angelo Mathews, Sri Lanka found their total woefully inadequate as India replied with 275/4 in 44.3 overs for their second win in as many matches here at the Sardar Patel Stadium on Thursday.             

Lanka remained in the game till about the 19th over by restricting India to 71/1 but given what had transpired in Cuttack, they would have known that the game would slip away from their grasp if they didn’t take wickets. Lanka can consider themselves unlucky when their caught-behind appeal against Shikhar Dhawan (79, 80b, 7x4, 1x6) was turned down with the batsman only on 10.

The southpaw rode his luck to punish the visiting attack with an entertaining innings that took the fight out of Lanka. His 122-run association off 121 balls with Rayudu gave India the right platform.

Coming in at No 4, Kohli (49, 44b, 2x4, 2x6) remained busy but allowed Rayudu most of the strike. The Baroda batsman made full use of the opportunity of batting high up the order with a command batting display. He took his time to settle down before expressing himself with a range of strokes that put to shade a fine knock by Mathews.  

An ODI century once again eluded Mathews but he would be quite satisfied with his effort. The knock, coming as it did with his team in a spot, just went on to show how far he has come off as a batsman in the past couple of years. Mathews did start off with a release shot, a slogged six off R Ashwin, but thereafter played with controlled aggression, holding a crippling innings together.

Mathews shared two vital partnerships, first with a largely subdued Kumar Sangakkara (61, 86b, 4x4) and then with Dhammika Prasad (30 n.o., 28b, 4x4) to steer Lanka to a competitive total from where they appeared to be settling for a middling total following the fall of wickets in clutches on two occasions. Having crumbled under the weight of the huge target in Cuttack, Lanka decided to set target after winning the toss but the plans went up in smoke after some promise.

Coming in for Upul Tharanga, opener Kusal Perera lasted just five balls after which Tillakaratne Dilshan and Sangakkara went into a complete shell as Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma bowled tight lines and lengths. A little gamble by Kohli, however, backfired when he brought in Ashwin for the last over of the mandatory power play.

Dilshan reeled off four consecutive fours off the off-spinner to give the innings the much-needed push.The momentum was lost soon when local boy Axar Patel cleaned up Dilshan with a straighter one while Mahela Jayawardene’s tame flick ended in the hands of Rayudu.

With their backs to the wall, Lanka found their saviours in Mathews and Sangakkara, who negotiated the three-pronged spin attack for 111 balls during which they added 90 runs.

With both batsmen seemingly well-set and primed to launch an assault, Lanka took batting power play in the 32nd over that spelt trouble for them. The five-over field restriction period saw Lanka lose three wickets for 30 runs, pegging them back considerably.

Even as Lanka kept losing wickets, Mathews stood firm and in Prasad he found a willing ally. The two forged a 54-run stand off 42 balls for the unbroken ninth wicket of which 48 came in the last five overs to provide the Lankan bowlers something significant to defend, but not enough to challenge the Indian batsmen.

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