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India outplays Sri Lanka in Dress Rehearsal

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Zaheer Khan got the Man of the Match in the 5th ODI at MirpurIndia’s weaklings – bowling and fielding came good on the same day to outplay Sri Lanka in what was virtually a Dress Rehearsal for the Idea Cup Final. Sri Lanka looking to taste the dew had no chance to sustain any sort of pressure on the Indian batsmen having put up a below par target of 214. The Men in Blue raced away to victory in just 32.4 overs by 8 wickets.

Both the sides made three changes each to test their respective bench strengths. Dinesh Karthik, Amit Mishra and Sudeep Tyagi replaced the trio of Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Ashish Nehra. For Sri Lanka, a fit again Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chanaka Welegedara and Suranga Lakmal came in for Lahiru Thirimanne, Nuwan Kulasekara and Malinga Bandara. Kumar Sangakkara won the toss and decided to give his team the experience of bowling under the wet conditions in the latter half.

Sudeep Tyagi bowling the first over struck with the fourth ball, getting just enough away movement to force a thick edge off an Upul Tharanga (0) drive to first slip. Dinesh Karthik took the fast edge with soft hands to set tone for the Indian fielding. After that blow, it was all Sri Lanka with Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara finding boundaries at will and it seemed that 400 was possible if they continued in this vein. Luckily for the bowling side, Dilshan’s demolition came to an early end in the 6th over when the star opener sliced a drive towards gully which was brilliantly held low by Gambhir. Dilshan had a net session, cracking 33 from 17 balls with 8 fours!

In the 10th over, Zaheer Khan went onto put Lanka on the backfoot by having Mahela Jayawardene (5) driving early to short covers and thus reduce SL to 60 for 3. It was only the last match that Tharanga and Mahela had got hundreds and in the next match dismissed for single digits! In the very next over, Sreesanth joined the party when Samaraweera shuffling far too across missed an inswinger that straightened to have him plumb infront.

It was disaster in the 14th over when Thilina Kandamby got run out following an indecision in the running from Kumar Sangakkara. Dinesh Karthik was the fielder keeping his cool and sending in a one bounce throw to Zaheer who held to the basics of coming behind the stumps. Sri Lanka fell flat at 66 for 5. The Lankans clearly lacked the intensity to play this match looking at their casual batting approach. Leggie Amit Mishra got the next wicket that of the big hitting Thisara Perera who got well caught off a slog sweep by a backward running Yuvraj Singh in the outfield.

Sri Lanka slipped to 84 for 6 in the 19th over. They didn’t collapse quickly after that as the pitch seemed to be very easy with the ball getting softer. Suraj Randiv hung in there along with his Skipper Sangakkara and every now and then the pair would play some calculated shots over the top. The seventh wicket partnership put on 59 runs before Sangakkara (68 from 78 balls with 9 fours) played a false pull off an arm ball from Yuvraj to miscue it at mid wicket.

The Lankans got another useful partnership between a solid Suraj Randiv and left handed Thilan Thushara to go past the 200-mark. Randiv helped himself to a maiden ODI fifty; he finished with 56 (from 76 balls with 5 fours) before getting bowled by a skidding googly from Mishra. Zaheer prior to that got Thushara top edging a hook which was again brilliantly caught by Yuvraj. The innings was finished in the 47th over with Mishra dragging Welegedara out of his crease for a slog to present an easy stumping for MS Dhoni.

Sri Lanka got bowled out for 213 in 46.1 overs. Zaheer Khan after some disappointing matches came good with 10-2-38-3. The left armer showed some venom off the pitch after a long time. Amit Mishra helped by the fact that SL were under pressure by the time he came into the attack ended up with 9.1-1-40-3. Yuvraj and Tyagi also bowled pretty well.

India starting with a new opening combination of Gautam Gambhir and Dinesh Karthik had an absolute cakewalk. Karthik was striking the ball like a dream, he looked very good to notch  up an effortless century. But being an unlucky cricketer, he fell at 48 trying to run one down to thirdman but not getting past the outstretched gloves of Sangakkara. Karthik’s 48 (from 40 balls with 9 fours) came in a breezy opening stand of 89 in 11.3 overs! A couple of flicks through mid wicket off the frontfoot and the backfoot were the highlights of the little man’s cameo.

One down batsman Virat Kohli continued to dominate the Lankan bowling after that in the company of Gambhir. Incredibly both these batsmen have been superbly consistent in getting the good scores for their team. They put on 72 runs for the second wicket until Gambhir flicked one early to get caught at wide mid wicket off Thisara Perera. The southpaw scored an elegant 71 from 86 balls with 10 fours which included a couple of gorgeous extra cover drives.

Virat Kohli (71 from 68 balls with 9 fours) finished the match using the batting powerplay along with Yuvraj Singh (8*) in the 33rd over itself. Kohli’s method was simple to hit the ball hard along the wet ground without compromising on the timing. The young man continued to show a lot of punch in his shots. In the end, it was a sound pounding given to Sri Lanka with India winning with as many as 104 balls to spare! Off Spinner Suraj Randiv was the only stand out performer with the ball for his 6-0-19-0.

Zaheer Khan was given the Man of the Match award. India play Bangladesh before the Final on the 13th.