The young Indian brigade under the able leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni has managed to stay alive in the CB Series with a nervous 2-wicket win over Sri Lanka. At the Adelaide Oval, the inexperience of the Indian team got exposed yet again but a back to form Yuvraj Singh made the difference. While Yuvraj ignited India’s comeback in the match, it was MS Dhoni staying right till the end to ensure the much needed win in the 8th ODI.
This match between the two sub continental teams was a cracker of a contest. Both teams fielded brilliantly and the bowling was fabulous for most part of the match which made batting look very difficult despite the pitch being flat. Sri Lanka were happy enough to post a challenging total of 238 for 6 after winning the toss and batting first. Sri Lanka were off to a disastrous start losing Dilshan in the first over from Munaf and then losing Jayasuriya through a run out at the non-striker’s end off the bowler deflection. India tightened the screws on their batting as they started off from 6 for 2 in the 3rd over. The pitch didn’t offer any assistance for the bowlers and this made it difficult for the Indians to chip away at the wickets.
The experienced duo of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene grinded the Indian attack for a significant amount of time to launch a good platform. The partnership came to an end when Mahela Jayawardene was run out just like Sanath which was backing up at the non-striker’s end. Mahela by then had made 71 from 99 with 4 fours and a magnificent hoik over mid wicket for a six off Ishant Sharma. The Sri Lankan Captain lifted his side to 159 for 3 in the 38th over. The rest of the innings was controlled single handedly by Kumar Sangakkara, who completed his 7th ODI hundred. Sangakkara made 128 from 155 with a dozen fours before he was dismissed with not many overs left. None of the Indian bowlers had bad figures but a couple of them like Praveen Kumar (the replacement of Sreesanth) and Harbhajan Singh lacked any penetration.
India were the favourites to win the match with 239 to chase under lights. Sri Lanka got the much needed lift to their energies when Lasith Malinga bowled a magical outswinger to rattle the stumps of Sachin Tendulkar with his very first delivery. Tendulkar did absolutely nothing in the match as he returned back with a 2-ball duck. After that big blow, the chasing side tried to be over cautious through Gambhir and Robin Uthappa. In the 10th over, a brilliant direct throw from the 38-year-old Sanath Jayasuriya brought curtains to Robin Uthappa (10 from 28) to reduce the score to 33 for 2. It was soon 35 for 3 as Gautam Gambhir (15 from 34) given caught behind down the legs off his thigh pad! Ishara Amerasinghe was the lucky bloke to take the wicket and New Zealander Tony Hill was the culprit giving that bad decision.
At this stage, two scintillating strokemakers – Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh got a partnership going. Both got going with meaty pull shots off the quick bowlers. Yuvraj playing his 200th match found some new confidence as he even dared to step down the track and drive Murali for a boundary. He then kept playing some powerful sweep shots, one of which had gone very big into the stands. The promising partnership didn’t last long as Rohit Sharma (24 from 36) played a full blooded sweep off Murali which picked a lone fielder in the deep. The pressure was back on the batting side with the score at 99 for 4. Fortunately enough, a sensible and inform, MS Dhoni got another partnership kicking along with Yuvraj to eat away at the target. Yuvraj continued to find the boundaries at regular intervals while Dhoni was picking up the ones and the twos.
It needed a great delivery to get rid of Yuvraj and that was produced by the veteran Chaminda Vaas. Although there wasn’t much pace, Vaas produced a near unplayable yorker which was too good for Yuvraj to block. India slipped to 158 for 5 in the 33rd over with Yuvraj departing after a sensational 76 from just 70 (with 10 fours and a six). Irfan Pathan came good like he mostly does to aid his Skipper to put up another partnership which got India closer to the target. Pathan fell in the 46th over trying to slog one off Amerasinghe but not before he had got 31 (from 41 balls with 4 fours) precious runs. Pathan along with Dhoni had taken the score from 158 for 5 to 216 for 6! There was still plenty of scope left for SL to win the match and it only increased when Amerasinghe and Malinga removed Praveen Kumar and Harbhajan Singh in the space of six deliveries! No. 10 batsman, Ishant Sharma had negotiated the final two deliveries off Malinga to make it possible for Dhoni to wrap up the match in the final over of the match with five balls to spare.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni remained unconquered on 50 which came in 68 balls and without a single hit to the ropes! The Sri Lankan pacers were good barring the exception of Farveez Maharoof, who let his team down by getting hit for 43 in his 6.1 overs. Although India won the match, it was Kumar Sangakkara to be named as the Man of the Match for his well compiled century.