Samaraweera, Perera steer Lankans home

Cricket: Triangular series: Sixth-wicket partnership of 57 runs help islanders humble India

Samaraweera, Perera steer Lankans home

Asked to bat first, India made a challenging 279 for nine, and Sri Lanka, riding on Samaraweera’s hundred, went past the target for a five-wicket win in the tri-series at the Sher-e-Bangla National stadium.

After a solid start, Lanka gained the momentum through the third-wicket alliance between Kumar Sangakkara, who completed 8000 runs in one-day cricket en route to a serene half-century, and Samaraweera that was worth 122 runs in a little over 20 overs.

The partnership was based on a commonsense approach with both the batsmen complementing each other perfectly as the Indian bowlers, with the exception of Harbhajan Singh, struggled to make any sort of impact.

The quick dismissal of Sangakkara, Thilina Kandambi and Suraj Randiv might have raised the India hopes in another closely fought encounter.
But a cool-nerved Samaraweera and Thissira Perera snuffed those hopes during their 57-run unbeaten sixth-wicket partnership.

Perera might not have appeared in such a pressure situation in his career, but the 20-year old showed maturity well beyond the years to play a blinder to take Lanka home, slamming a 15-ball 36.

Earlier, India lost in-form opener Gautam Gambhir with only 14 on the board. But his early dismissal was soon forgotten as Virender Sehwag enlivened the proceedings in his typical manner, essaying powerful shots all around the wicket.

Sehwag, however, could not carry on with the carnage, a leading edge off Welegedara ending in the hands of Thirumane. The dismissal of Sehwag cut down the scoring rate quite considerably and  Welegedara’s dismissal of Kohli — Sangakkara grabbing the Delhiite’s pre-determined steer to third man — put India in a spot of bother.

Sluggish pitch
The quick return of Sehwag and Virat Kohli forced fourth wicket pair – Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh – to adopt more watchful ways. The sluggish nature of the pitch meant both the batsmen had to be selective in their strokeplay.

While Dhoni never seemed comfortable out even Yuvraj could not fully master the sluggish pitch on the day and was forced to adopt workmanlike methods.

However, the destroyer in Yuvraj surfaced when Thilina Kandambi was introduced into the attack. The southpaw smashed him for two sixes and at the other end Dhoni, though not his usual aggressive self, too began to find gaps more frequently.

Simple catch
The blossoming alliance was broken at 99. Pacer Perera induced a thick edge from Dhoni for Sangakkara to complete a simple catch behind the stumps. Yuvraj soon departed as India were reduced to an uncomfortable 198 for five with only Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja left in the line-up.

The two young left-handers did not exploit the death overs and the batting Power Play, taken from 44th over, but they still managed to take India to a score that could have been challenging under the prevailing circumstances. But not without some drama.

When he was on seven, Raina edged Suranga Lakmal to Sangakkara and the Lankan skipper claimed a catch but replays clearly showed a bump ball.

On-field umpires Simon Taufel and Nadir Shah reversed the decision after consulting the third umpire as Raina walked back to the crease.

But a clutch of wickets fell towards the end as India failed to reach the 300-run mark, and they paid dearly for it.

Wednesday is a rest day before India take on Bangladesh in their second match of the series on Thursday.

SCORE BOARD
INDIA
Gambhir b Welegedara    8
(12b, 1x4)
Sehwag c Thirumane b Welegedara    47
(31b, 9x4)
Kohli c Sangakkara b Welegedara    9
(12b, 1x4)
Yuvraj c Lakmal b Perera    74
(84b, 6x4, 2x6)
Dhoni c Sangakkara b Perera    37
(70b, 3x4)
Raina b Welegedara    35
(46b, 4x4)
Jadeja c Kandambi b Thushara    39
(34b, 3x4, 1x6)
Harbhajan c Perera b Thushara    1
(2b)
Zaheer b Welegedara    2
(4b)
Nehra (not out)    4
(6b)
Sreesanth (not out)    1
(3b)
Extras (B-3, LB-3, W-12, NB-4)    22
Total (9 wkts, 50 overs)    279

Fall of wickets: 1-14 (Gambhir), 2-62 (Kohli), 3-71 (Sehwag), 4-170 (Dhoni), 5-198 (Yuvraj), 6-263 (Raina), 7-264 (Harbhajan), 8-268 (Zaheer), 9-275 (Jadeja).
Bowling: Welegedara 10-1-66-5 (nb-4, w-4), Lakmal 8-1-48-0 (w-2), Thushara 10-0-62-2 (w-2), Randiv 10-0-36-0, Kandamby 4-1-22-0 (w-2), Samaraweera 2-0-12-0, Perera 6-0-27-2 (w-2).

Runs during Power Play: Power Play 1: 1-10: 76/3; Power Play 2: 11-15: 13/0; Power Play 3 (batting): 44-48: 45/3.

SRI LANKA
Tharanga c&b Harbhajan    30
(48b, 4x4)
Thirumane c Gambhir b Sreesanth    22
(24b, 4x4)
Sangakkara c Raina b Harbhajan    60
(80b, 4x4)
Samaraweera (not out)    105
(106b, 11x4)
Kandambi c Sreesanth b Harbhajan    8
(11b, 1x4)
Randiv (run out)    4
(9b)
Perera (not out)    36
(15b, 6x4, 1x6)
Extras (LB-1, W-12, NB-5)    18
Total (5 wkts, 48 overs)     283

Fall of wickets: 1-48 (Thirumane), 2-77 (Tharanga),3-199 (Sangakkara), 4-217 (Kandambi), 5-226 (Randiv).

Bowling: Zaheer 9-0-57-0 (w-3), Nehra 8-0-55-0 (nb-3, w-5), Sreesanth 7-0-47-1 (nb-2, w-2), Harbhajan 10-1-47-3, Sehwag 5-0-26-0, Jadeja 4-0-31-0, Yuvraj 5-0-19-0 (w-2)

Runs during Power Play: Power Play 1: 1-10: 61/1, Power Play 2: 11-15: 16/0, Power Play 3 (batting):  44-48: 59/1

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