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IN ROUSING FORM:Tillakaratne Dilshan fired on all cylinders in the final of the Micromax ODI tri-series.
Dambulla: India succumbed to the pressures of the chase in a Cup final. Needing 300 to win the title clash of the Micromax ODI tri-series here on Saturday, the side was dismissed for 225.
Kumar Sangakkara's men celebrated the triumph before a jubilant home crowd at the packed Rangiri Stadium.
On easily the most conducive pitch for batting in the competition, Man-of-the-match Tillakaratne Dilshan's stroke-filled 115-ball 110 and skipper Kumar Sangakkara's well-paced 71 took Sri Lanka to 299 for eight after Sri Lanka had won the toss.
Then, Lasith Malinga's toe-crushers, Thisara Perera's seam movement and off-spinner Suraj Randiv's control and spin had the final say.
Sri Lanka was the more aggressive side and deserved to win. India opting for an extra batsman in Rohit Sharma was a largely defensive move. Why off-spinner R. Ashwin has not received a look-in in this tournament is beyond comprehension.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni fought hard for his 100-ball 67. He struck powerfully over covers and wristed the ball through the on-side in typical fashion.
However, India failed to build partnerships. Perhaps, there was more movement and zip off the wicket for the bowlers under the lights.
Much hinged on Virender Sehwag; later named Man-of-the-Series.
He timed the ball with stunning brilliance between squarish third man and cover before Chamara Kapugedera's direct hit from point ended his innings; Sehwag set off after a Nuwan Kulasekara off-cutter crashed into his pads. This was a huge moment.
Dinesh Karthik — adjudged caught down the leg-side off birthday boy Lasith Malinga — received his third rough decision in five innings here.
A few verdicts also went in India's favour. Replays showed Yuvraj Singh was caught behind off Kulasekara and Dhoni was leg-before to an incoming delivery from Angelo Mathews — both batsmen received the benefit of doubt.
Yuvraj launched into a few rousing strokes through covers before being done in by a Perera delivery that lifted and held its line.
Virat Kohli, driving fluently through the off-side and whipping off his legs, raised expectations before opting to pull a rising delivery from the zestful Perera to be picked up at third man.
The left-handed Suresh Raina launched into a blaze of strokes but Randiv prised him out with a flighted delivery from round the wicket.
The off-spinner spun the ball but was a tad fortunate to have Rohit Sharma stumped when the ball rolled back from 'keeper Sangakkara's pads.
In the first half of the day, the Indian pace attack, barring the impressive
Munaf Patel, was largely wayward; there were as many as 12 wides. And an equal number of leg-byes indicated the pacemen simply did not bowl the right line. Praveen Kumar had an off-day.
An aggressive batsman with bat-speed and hand-eye coordination, Dilshan seized the initiative. His eighth ODI century was high on octane.
The punishing right-hander can stand and deliver; he can also dance down the track. This makes it hard for the bowlers to zero in on the right length against him.
Dilshan flicked and cut Praveen Kumar, punched and drove Ashish Nehra and struck an awesome front-footed six over long-on off Ishant Sharma. Frayed tempers were on view too with Munaf and Dilshan being involved in a verbal duel.
The rollicking opening partnership of 121 in 20.2 overs built an ideal platform for the host. Mahela Jayawardene's supporting 67-ball 39, not typically flamboyant, was vital.
During his innings, Mahela became the third Sri Lankan — the illustrious Aravinda de Silva and Sanath Jayasuriya had achieved the feat earlier — to reach 9,000 ODI runs.
But then, Mahela was fortunate in the opening over when he missed a flick off Praveen; replays showed the ball would have clipped the stumps.
Mahela cashed in. His cover-drive off Ishant was gorgeous. The right-hander has light feet and terrific hands.
In the first 15 overs, including the bowling Power Play, Sri Lanka raced to 94 without loss. Mahela was looking good for more when Ishant got him to miscue an attempted flick.
Then, southpaw Upul Tharanga nicked an attempted cut off Yuvraj's tidy left-arm spin but the right-left pair of Dilshan and Sangakkara strung together another crucial association.
Taking his time
Sangakkara took time to find his bearings but did put his foot on the accelerator. His balance, poise and timing were on view as he creamed Ishant, bowling round-the-wicket, for a series of boundaries on the off-side.
Sri Lanka, pursuing quick runs, lost wickets and some momentum towards the end but Chamara Silva's handy unbeaten 26 took the side to the brink of 300. It proved a match-winning score.
Sri Lanka: M. Jayawardene c Karthik b Ishant 39 ( 67b, 5x4), T. Dilshan c Ishant b Praveen 110 ( 115b, 12x4, 1x6), U. Tharanga c Dhoni b Yuvraj 6 ( 9b, 1x4), K. Sangakkara c Rohit b Munaf 71 ( 62b, 7x4, 1x6), C. Kapugedera c Karthik b Nehra 12 ( 10b, 2x4), A. Mathews c Rohit b Ishant 1 ( 4b), C. Silva (not out) 26 ( 21b, 2x4), T. Perera c Dhoni b Munaf 6 ( 8b), S. Randiv (run out) 4 ( 4b, 1x4), N. Kulasekara (not out) 0 ( 0b); Extras: (lb-12, w-12): 24; Total: (for eight wkts in 50 overs): 299.
Fall of wickets: 1-121 (Jayawardene), 2-132 (Tharanga), 3-217 (Dilshan), 4-242 (Kapugedera), 5-258 (Mathews), 6-261 (Sangakkara), 7-294 (Perera), 8-298 (Randiv).
India bowling: Praveen 10-0-72-1, Munaf 9-1-43-2, Nehra 10-0-60-1, Ishant 8-0-54-2, Yuvraj 8-0-37-1, Sehwag 5-0-21-0.
India: V. Sehwag (run out) 28 (22b, 6x4), D. Karthik c Sangakkara b Malinga 0 (2b), V. Kohli c Mathews b Perera 37 (57b, 5x4), Yuvraj c Sangakkara b Perera 26 (31b, 4x4), M.S. Dhoni b Randiv 67 (100b, 5x4, 1x6), S. Raina c Dilshan b Randiv 29 (28b, 1x4, 2x6), Rohit st. Sangakkara b Randiv 5 (9b), Praveen b Malinga 14 (16b, 1x4, 1x6), Ishant b Perera 0 (12b), A. Nehra c Perera b Mathews 2 (7b), Munaf (not out) 0 (1b); Extras (b-4, lb-1, w-8, nb-4): 17; Total (in 46.5 overs): 225.
Fall of wickets: 1-9 (Karthik), 2-38 (Sehwag), 3-88 (Yuvraj), 4-109 (Kohli), 5-158 (Raina), 6-177 (Rohit), 7-201 (Praveen), 8-210 (Ishant), 9-224 (Nehra).
Sri Lanka bowling: Malinga 9-0-49-2, Kulasekara 9-0-47-0, Mathews 10-0-48-1, Perera 9-2-36-3, Randiv 9.5-1-40-3 .
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