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India slumps to yet another big defeat

S. Dinakar

The visitor bundled out for 103; Lanka chases down the total in 15.1 overs

— Photo: AFP

Unlikely hero:Sri Lanka's Thisara Perera bowled a telling line to the Indian batsmen, and was awarded the Man-of-the-Match award for his effort.

Dambulla: Sri Lanka showed plenty of intent as it outplayed India by eight wickets here on Sunday to enter the final of the Micromax ODI tri-nation series. Pursuing just 104, the home side raced to the target in only 15.1 overs.

India might have been undone by at least three umpiring errors, but it was essentially faulty technique — playing away from the body or across the line — in conditions assisting pacemen that let the side down. There can be no excuses for being bundled out for 103 in under 34 overs on a surface that provided some movement off the seam, but held no devils. Batting demanded application.

Sri Lanka finished with 11 points, including a bonus in the last game. India and New Zealand will face-off for a place in the summit clash on Wednesday.

Pace-bowling all-rounder Thisara Perera — adjudged Man of the Match — was the unlikely hero for the host. He bowled a telling line around the off-stump, swung and seamed the ball. In his previous 10 ODIs for Sri Lanka, he had picked up only seven wickets. Here, he scalped five batsmen for 28 in 7.4 overs of impressive control and variations.

Sri Lanka, then, breezed to the target in only 15.1 overs. Mahela Jayawardene (33), promoted to the opening slot, and Tillakaratne Dilshan (35) cut, pulled and drove the erratic Praveen Kumar and Aashish Nehra. The pair gathered 79 runs in just 9.2 overs before Ishant Sharma removed both the openers. Before long, Sri Lanka was home.

Early break

For a change, Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss. And with the weather clearing up, he opted to bat. There was deviation off the surface for the pacemen while a blustery wind was assisting swing.

The aggressive Sri Lanka and struck early. An off-cutter from the probing Nuwan Kulasekara struck Virender Sehwag on the pads as he attempted a whip off the back-foot. Umpire Kumar Dharmasena responded positively to the Sri Lankan appeal. Television replays indicated the ball would have clipped leg-stump.

Kulasekara was bowling in the right areas. He tested the batsmen in the corridor, mixed the delivery that came in with the one that straightens. Dinesh Karthik was beaten out-side the off-stump and Sangakkara, standing up, rose in appeal. Dharmasena's finger went up, but the replays did not reveal any contact with the bat.

The speedy Lasith Malinga apart, Sangakkara was largely standing up to the pacemen. The ploy was to discourage batsmen from stepping out for an aggressive stroke. It was also meant to prevent the batsmen from getting forward and countering the movement.

Angelo Matthews, sending down his leg and off-cutters with precision, was spot on.

Rohit Sharma once again played across, attempting to work the ball to the leg-side. He was rightly adjudged leg-before. India, under pressure, was 50 for three in the 13th over.

The left-handed Yuvraj Singh (38), meanwhile, got behind the line, played straight, and leaned into his drives. Suresh Raina, another southpaw, might have been lucky when umpire Asad Rauf gave him the benefit of doubt following a vociferous caught-behind appeal from Mathews.

Raina soon ran out of luck when Perera beat the batsman outside the off-stump with a delivery that kept a tad low. Umpire Dharmasena agreed with the Sri Lankan appeal.

Replays did not suggest an edge. Raina did not help his cause either by attempting to pursue the delivery with static feet.

Disciplined attack

To its credit, the disciplined Sri Lankan attack was giving little away. And the host fielding was sharp.

The Sri Lankan plans worked. Perera sent down a series of incoming deliveries to Dhoni with Sangakkara standing up. The Sri Lankan captain stood back for the last ball and the paceman moved one away from Dhoni. The right-hander, attempting a glide off the front-foot, edged to Sangakkara.

Ravindra Jadeja did not inspire confidence. He was run-less for eight balls and was opened up by Perera — the left-hander got himself into a tangle — off the ninth.

India continued to lose wickets, but Yuvraj was defiant. He lofted Perera over mid-on and then eased into a flowing off-drive that sailed over the ropes. The left-hander's innings was cut short when he attempted to hoist Malinga from outside the off-stump, missed and saw umpire Asad Rauf adjudging him out. Replays showed the ball was clearly missing off-stump.

It was a wretched outing in the middle for India.

India: D. Karthik c Sangakkara b Kulasekara 9 (25b), V. Sehwag lbw b Kulasekara 12 (12b, 2x4), R. Sharma lbw b Mathews 11 (21b, 2x4), Y. Singh lbw b Malinga 38 (64b, 5x4, 1x6), S. Raina c Sangakkara b Perera 8 (16b, 1x4), M.S. Dhoni c Sangakkara b Perera 10 (16b, 2x4), R. Jadeja c Silva b Perera 0 (9b), P. Kumar c Tharanga b Perera 0 (1b), A. Nehra c Sangakkara b Malinga 2 (4b), I. Sharma b Perera 3 (24b), P. Ojha (not out) 2 (10b), Extras (lb-3, w-5) 8; Total (all out in 33.4 overs) 103.

Fall of wickets: 1-20 (Sehwag), 2-26 (Karthik), 3-50 (R. Sharma), 4-61 (Raina), 5-71 (Dhoni), 6-77 (Jadeja), 7-77 (P. Kumar), 8-80 (Nehra), 9-99 (Yuvraj).

Sri Lanka bowling: Malinga 9-1-21-2, Kulasekara 9-2-31-2, Mathews 8-3-20-1, Perera 7.4-1-28-5.

Sri Lanka: M. Jayawardene c Jadeja b Ishant 33 (35b, 6x4), T. Dilshan c Nehra b Ishant 35 (23b, 8x4), U. Tharanga (not out) 12 (19b, 2x4), K. Sangakkara (not out) 13 (15b, 2x4), Extras (lb-6, w-4, nb-1) 11; Total (for two wkts in 15.1 overs) 104.

Fall of wickets: 1-79 (Dilshan), 2-79 (M. Jayawardene).

India bowling: Praveen Kumar 7-1-44-0, Nehra 5-0-39-0, Ishant 3.1-0-15-2 .

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