India clinched a much needed bonus point win against hosts Sri Lanka in the 3rd match at Dambulla thanks to a responsible 99 not out from Virender Sehwag. The opening batsman stayed all the way till the end to guide his team to a 6-wicket win. This was after India had bundled out Sri Lanka for just 170 in 46.1 overs after losing the toss.
Praveen Kumar provided a dream start for his team by cleaning up the stumps of Upul Tharanga in the very first ball of the match with a magical outswinger. The rest of the bowlers complemented him to sustain the pressure on the Sri Lankan batting. Only Tillakaratne Dilshan could survive long enough but he lost patience in the 22nd over top edging a slog sweep off Pragyan Ojha to leave SL at 82 for 5. Dilshan’s 45 (from 62 balls with 5 fours) was the top score of the innings.
Sri Lanka slipped to 103 for 7 before Suraj Randiv got stuck in with Nuwan Kulasekara to add up 39 runs for the 8th wicket. That helped the hosts to reach a respectable 170 with Suraj Randiv being the last man out having batted well for his 61-ball 43. The Indian bowling saw a good show from both the pacers and the spinners. Praveen Kumar was the best with figures of 8-2-20-2 while Pragyan Ojha picked up 3 for 36. Ishant Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja took two wickets each while Ashish Nehra got the prized wicket of Skipper Kumar Sangakkara.
India in their chase got a steady start of 30 before Dinesh Karthik got caught at thirdman in an upper cut. Sri Lanka bounced back into the game when the next two batsmen – Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma got duck out to have their team in trouble at 32 for 3 in 10.4 overs! Sehwag who was bowled off a freehit ball was determined to see India through and in the process got two good partnerships going that won the match. The first of them was with Suresh Raina who made 21 in a 4th wicket stand of 59. Sehwag’s next partnership was a winning one with Skipper MS Dhoni (23*) as the pair took India from 91 for 4 to the 171-run target. India chased the runs in 34.3 overs to take the crucial bonus point.
Sehwag remained unbeaten on 99 (from 100 balls with 11 fours and 2 sixes) though he had struck the last ball of the match for a six. That six was not counted as Suraj Randiv appeared to have bowled a no-ball deliberately to finish the match when the scores were leveled with Sehwag also on 99!