Upul Tharanga

Upul Tharanga became only the third Sri Lankan to score more than 150 runs in a One-Day International (ODI) when he hit an unbeaten 174 against India © AFP

By Jaideep Vaidya
Kingston (Jamaica): Jul 2, 2013
A masterclass in batting from openers Upul Tharanga (174 not out off 159 balls) and Mahela Jayawardene (107 off 112 balls) enabled Sri Lanka to post a commanding 348 for one against India in the third match of the Caribbean tri-series at Sabina Park.
The Sri Lankans made up for their collapse against the West Indies in the first match, where they were bowled out for 208. Today, their opening pair made 213 themselves, making it the ninth time that Sri Lankan openers have been involved in 200-plus partnerships in One-Day Internationals (ODIs). Tharanga, who carried his bat to his highest ODI score and also became just the third Sri Lankan after Sanath Jayasuriya and Tillakaratne Dilshan to score more than 150 runs in an ODI, has been involved in seven of them, which goes to show the 28-year-old’s prowess.

Tharanga is one of those inconspicuous performers on the field; you’ll never know when and how he scores his runs. To the ignorant, he crossed 5,000 today in his 157th ODI innings. To put things further into perspective, Tharanga, with 13 hundreds now, has more ODI centuries than names like Sir Viv Richards (11), Hashim Amla (11), Kevin Pietersen (9) and Michael Clarke (7).
The Indian bowlers struggled throughout the near four-hour session and would have perhaps rued their decision to bowl first. The pitch at Sabina Park, like it has in the last two games, looked dark and full of moisture. Hosts West Indies had won both their games after chasing and India’s stand-in captain Virat Kohli could be forgiven for going with the statistics. However, India’s 22nd ODI captain would have hoped for a better performance from his bowlers, who put in one of their worst performances in recent times.
India chose to drop Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the game and went for Mohammed Shami Ahmed, who was called to the Caribbean in place of the injured Irfan Pathan. The decision was to be proven fruitless as Shami went wicketless for 68 runs in his 10 overs. His mates in the bowling attack were also in for similar brutal treatment from the Lankans, with Ishant Sharma going for 68 in nine overs and none of the top five bowlers conceding less than six runs an over.

You could say that India missed their skipper MS Dhoni. Without him, they looked like a bunch of headless chickens on the field. Their fielding, which was raved by the world during the Champions Trophy, looked pedestrian. Murali Vijay in particular, who was brought in for the injured Dhoni, looked as if he had been woken out of deep slumber and thrusted onto the field.

Save for their last two matches, India’s batting has been phenomenal and, on paper, looks capable of chasing down 350. But it will require some immaculate temperament and the right amount of aggression to top this great effort from the Lankan batsmen.
Brief scores:
Sri Lanka 348 for 1 in 50 overs (Upul Tharanga 174*, Mahela Jayawardene 107) vs India.
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(Jaideep Vaidya is a reporter, sub-editor and analyst at CricketCountry. A diehard Manchester United fan and multiple sports buff, you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook)