By BV Swagath
Kumar Sangakkara scored a brilliant 18th ODI century in just 83 balls to help Sri Lanka clinch a thrilling win over India at Fatullah. Chasing 265, Sri Lanka got off to a splendid start from its openers. But the Lankans lost their way in the middle overs once the ball started to grip the pitch. Ravindra Jadeja spun India back in the game taking two wickets in two balls. But Sangakkara stayed the distance to take the Lankans home.
The run chase was well set up by an opening stand of 80 in 17.2 overs from Lahiru Thirimanne (38 from 55 balls) and Kusal Perera who blasted a couple of sixes and 4 fours in a knock of 64 from 81 balls. India’s desperate breakthroughs came from R Ashwin with Thirimanne lbw to an arm ball and Kusal Perera caught behind to a sharp turner.
Sri Lanka who were cruising along when Kusal Perera and Sangakkara were batting all of a sudden found themselves reeling at 148 for 4 in the 32nd over. Ravindra Jadeja spun India back in the contest taking the wickets of Mahela Jayawardene and Dinesh Chandimal in consecutive deliveries.
Mohammed Shami increased India’s chances of a win by removing Angelo Mathews and Sachithra Senanayake to have SL at 183 for 6 in 39 overs. India lost the plot though with Kumar Sangakkara striking 12 fours and a six to score his 18th ODI ton in just 83 balls.
A near beamer from Shami got rid of Sangakkara for 103 but it was too late with Sri Lanka needing only 7 more runs in 9 balls. Sri Lanka got home with four balls to spare with Thisara Perera staying unbeaten on 11 from 18 balls. Kumar Sangakkara was the Man of the Match for his 84-ball 103.
India innings: India finished with a healthy total of 264 for 9 after being put into bat first on a slow low dry pitch at Fatullah. Opener Shikhar Dhawan laid the foundation with a knock of 94 from 117 balls with 7 fours and a six. Skipper Virat Kohli was the next best with 48 in 51 balls with 4 fours and a six.
Ajantha Mendis bowled outstandingly well for Sri Lanka taking four wickets for 60 runs. Off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake also did a great job taking 3 for 41 in 10 overs.
Batting wasn’t that easy as the ball stayed low and was hardly coming onto the bat. Senanayake produced the first breakthrough when he had Rohit Sharma lbw to a turning ball for 13. India were going slowly at that time with 33 on the board in 9.2 overs.
In-form Virat Kohli made batting look easy while Shikhar Dhawan was determined to come up with a good score to his name. The two batsmen added 97 runs for the 2nd wicket before Kohli was clean bowled by a carrom ball from Mendis. Ajinkya Rahane scored 22 in a stand of 45 with Dhawan before slicing a big shot off Senanayake.
The Indian innings fell apart once the batsmen decided to manufacture the big shots. Shikhar Dhawan looking to play a forcing pull was bowled by a skidder from Mendis. Dinesh Karthik and AT Rayudu perished trying to play the biggies while newcomer Stuart Binny was lbw for a duck.
Ravindra Jadeja with an unbeaten 22 and last man Mohammed Shami with 14 not out (2 sixes) helped India to a nice finish.
Toss and Teams: Sri Lanka have won the toss and asked India to bat first in Match 4 of the Asia Cup 2014 at Fatullah. The news from the Indian camp is that Varun Aaron has been dropped and has been replaced with all-rounder Stuart Binny. Sri Lanka have made one change with Ajantha Mendis coming in for Suranga Lakmal.
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (C), Ajinkya Rahane, AT Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Stuart Binny , R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami
Sri Lanka: Kushal Janith Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara (WK), Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews (C), Thisara Perera, Chaturanga de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal, Sachithra Senanayake, Lasith Malinga, Ajantha Mendis