Kumar Sangakkara scored his 85th ODI half-century © AFP
By Abhijit Banare
Feb 28, 2014
Kumar Sangakkara‘s brilliant form continued as he scored his 18th One-Day International century to lead Sri Lanka to a narrow two-wicket win over India in the fourth match of the Asia Cup 2014 at Fatullah on Friday. Chasing 265, Sri Lanka got there in 49.1 overs.
It was the brittle middle-order of both sides which kept the match exciting. While the untested middle-order of India fell apart during their batting powerplay, the Sri Lankans were done in by Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami.
But there was nothing to stop Sangakkara as he has scored his fourth century this month including a triple ton. A free-flowing 103 from 86 balls while others struggled on the slow wicket showed the form Sangakkara is in. His dismissal at the end only added some drama in the match. With one run needed in the last over, Dhawan dropped Thisara Perera before the left-hander scampered through to a single and completed the win.
Left-handers at the top of the order tormented India as they started off their chase in a well-planned manner. It also meant that Shami’s chances of providing an early breakthrough dipped big time. He averages over 53 against left-handers. Lahiru Thirimanne and Kusal Perera started the chase on a positive note. Though Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar got the ball to swing, the batsmen remained largely unperturbed. Perera though survived twice dropped on seven and 38. On the first instance Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan collided trying to pluck a skier which flew close to thirdman. The Indians were fielding well yet couldn’t keep the openers quiet.
They had added 80 in 17 overs, a perfect platform with Sangakkara to follow. It was Ravichandran Ashwin who gave India the breakthrough, with a hint of surprise. Mid-way through his spell, the off-spinner reverted to his old bowling action and trapped Thirimanne leg-before for 38.
The big breakthrough came after a brief partnership between Perera and Sangakkara. The Jayasuriya-like Perera edged one to keeper and walked back for 64. It also gave Ashwin his 100th ODI wicket playing in his 77th match.
There was not much doubt for Kohli in opting for bowling changes and he kept Jadeja from one end. The middle-order collapse commenced in a stylish way as Mahela Jayawardene drove sweetly to mid-off fielder. The next ball was a dream wicket for a left-hand spinner; Dinesh Chandimal played for the line than the turn and was bowled for a golden duck. Indians had begun to sniff their chances through the spinners. Against the run of play it was Shami who came back and picked two quick wickets. Mathews was gone for six and pinch-hitter Sachithra Senanayake was caught trying to up the ante.
The fall of wickets in the middle didn’t have much effect on Sangakkara who was in his own bubble timing the ball sweetly. None of those left-hand spin or pace beat him on the defense.
Contrary to the belief that subcontinent wickets are a run-fest, we have seen four matches and none of them have seen a total beyond 300. India led by Kohli, known for his fascination to chase, was put into bat first.
The pitch remained consistent with its slow nature and low bounce throughout the day. Rohit Sharma couldn’t read the wicket well and was gone early for 13. A 97-run stand between Dhawan and Kohli helped India make steady progress until Ajantha Mendis got through the defense of Kohli.
Dhawan and Rahane put on a short partnership before they lost five wickets in a span of just 38 runs. Dhawan top-scored with 94 but the hurry to score off the spinners in the powerplay meant Mendis and Senanayake added to their tally. Ultimately it was Shami’s two huge sixes over mid-wicket which put them beyond 250.
In the end Sangakkara’s form prevailed over everything else. Virat Kohli was impressive with his captaincy rotating the bowlers. India now face Pakistan on Sunday (March 2).
India 264 for 9 in 50 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 94, Virat Kohli 48; Ajantha Mendis 4 for 60, Sachithra Senanayake 3 for 41) lost to Sri Lanka 265 for 8 in 49.1 overs (Kumar Sangakkara 103, Kusal Perera 64; Mohammed Shami 3 for 80; Ravindra Jadeja 3 for 30) by 2 wickets.
Man of the Match: Kumar Sangakkara
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)