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Sri Lanka avoid cleansweep with consolation win

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Sri Lanka saved itself from an embarrassing 5-0 cleansweep by winning the final One dayer at RPS, Colombo by 68 runs. India’s ordinary bowling performance saw the visitors forced to chase a huge target. The batsmen were in a hurry to chase 321 and in the process made too many mistakes which caused their downfall. India had to end their winning streak after 9 ODIs.

Toss and Teams: Mahela Jayawardene won the crucial toss for a change and his side had the benefit of batting first. He brought back Ajantha Mendis and Thilan Thushara for Angelo Matthews and Dilhara Fernando. India gave ODI debut for Saurashtra all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja while Lakshmipathy Balaji made his comeback, both coming in place of Pragyan Ojha and Praveen Kumar to deplete the bowling attack.

Toothless Indian attack gets flayed around

Debutant Ravindra Jadeja put down a sharp catch early in the match to allow Sanath Jayasuriya break free and provide a perfect start with Dilshan. Irfan Pathan’s lack of penetration proved very costly and although Balaji at one change did get the ball to swing around, his lack of pace was exploited to the hilt. Jayasuriya (37 from 35 balls with 7 fours) threw his wicket away much to the delight of Irfan Pathan to end the first wicket partnership in the 11th over with SL at 66/1. Sri Lanka after that rode through a big partnership between a more selective Dilshan and the inform Sangakkara. There was no threat at all of losing their wickets against an ordinary Indian attack. MS Dhoni had to use as many as 9 bowlers a situation which had happened only once before when Sourav Ganguly was in charge of the team in 2002 match against the West Indies.

In the 33rd over, India breathed easy with Sangakkara getting caught in the deep off Yuvraj but not before taking his side to 209 for 2 in about 33 overs. Sanga missed out on an easy century as he fell for 84 (from 70 balls with 8 fours and a six). India struck back during the start of the slog overs as four wickets went down in the space of just six balls to have SL slip to 256 for 6 in the 43rd over. It was largely due to a resurgent Ishant Sharma who cleaned up Thilan Kandamby with a beauty followed up with a leg cutter to remove Kapugedera. In between that there was Mahela Jayawardene running out the top scorer Dilshan who fell three runs short of a century. Dilshan’s 97 came in 117 balls with 9 fours. Mahela himself fell at a crucial juncture by driving Yuvraj too early. Ishant Sharma picked up another big wicket in the form of Thushara with a slower one to make it 277 for 7 in the 46th over. But Ishant couldn’t find any support from the other end and SL cruised to 320 for 8. Maharoof made 32 from 23 with 3 fours and a six to get most of the runs towards the end.

India’s bowling was far too ordinary with the exception of Ishant Sharma bowling well in patches. Ravindra Jadeja didn’t seem to be having good basics of turning the ball and the only occasions he would beat the bat was with balls that skidded through straight. He was taken for 40 in his 6 overs.

Restless Indian batsmen throw away the match

Young and restless was the Indian batting line-up chasing the 321 a target which was perfectly achievable for their potential. Sehwag led the way with a needless big shot to get caught in the 2nd over and in the 3rd over, Suresh Raina nicked Kulasekara to the keeper. Sangakkara was straightaway standing upto the stumps to Kulasekara to keep Gambhir and Raina arrested in the crease. After a lovely partnership with Yuvraj, Gambhir (13) fell to the nagging outswinger from Kulasekara to have India shaken up at 52 for 3 in the 9th over. All this while Yuvraj Singh was batting at his destructive best by bringing his big backlift to good effect to smack boundaries at will. But he lost another partner in Rohit Sharma (caught playing an ambitious pull) and a few overs later he himself falling in the 22nd over with a forcible slog sweep off Murali that went wrong. Yuvraj did entertain millions of viewers on the Television with his blistering knock of 73 from 62 balls with 11 fours and a six. It was a dominating knock from the left hander as he had smashed 73 out of the 121 that India had on board at his dismissal.

It was a lost cause for India in the 22nd over having lost their fifth wicket. Skipper MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja helped themselves to half centuries to bring some sort of respectability to the Indian total. Dhoni made an attacking 53 from 58 balls with a four and a couple of sixes while Jadeja played himself in to feel what it was in an ODI. He remained unbeaten with a well composed innings of 60 from 77 which had 5 fours. India got bowler out for 252 which reduced the defeat margin to 67 runs. The Man of the Match went to Sangakkara for his batting and also for a couple of sharp catches. The Player of the Series went to Yuvraj Singh.

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