India somehow held on to win the 2nd match of the CB series against Sri Lanka after a middle order collapse left the team in a perilous position. R Ashwin starred with both bat and ball – taking 3 wickets to restrict Sri Lanka to a sub-par score before he turned hero, adding 50+ runs with Ravindra Jadeja to take India to a 4 wicket win.
Zaheer Khan gave India the early breakthrough accounting for Upul Tharanga in the 3rd over after Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first on a good pitch that had something for both batsmen and the bowlers. Tharaga only managed an edge off an attempted drive and Sachin Tendulkar gleefully accepted the chance at 1st slip. Tillakaratne Dilshan seemed a different batsman without having to worry about captaincy as he and another former skipper Kumar Sangakkara restored parity with a good stand.
Zaheer further emphasized why he is such an asset to the Indian team as he struck again to send back the well-set Sangakkara for 26. The duo had added 62 runs and the wicket came at the right time for India. The bowlers then managed to create enough pressure to stifle the Sri Lankan scoring and even Dilshan, who had got his eye in by then, found it tough to score freely.
The pressure eventually got the better of the batsmen and Dilshan was out to a harmless Ravindra Jadeja delivery – cutting it straight to Virat Kohli at point. Mahela Jayawardene and Dinesh Chandimal ensured there were no further setbacks for the Islanders with another steady stand. The duo added in excess of 50 at a good pace to get Sri Lanka into a position from which they could push for a power score.
But like so many before him, Jayawardene fell trying to improve the scoring in the powerplay overs. Ashwin did the trick for India by getting the Lankan skipper, who had earlier crossed the 2000 run mark against India, to top edge an attempted sweep. The wicket was one India desperately needed and they ensured they made the most of it as Ashwin had Thisara Perera out stumped for his 2nd wicket.
Chandimal, who had got to his fifty, prior to Perera’s dismissal was also out stumped off Ashwin and the impressive youngster took with him all hopes of Sri Lanka going past 250. The bowlers ensured there was no late thrashing as Sri Lanka ended with a sub-par score of 233/8.
India’s batting failures recently have been all too common and one would’ve been forgiven for thinking the same was on today when Virender Sehwag fell in the 3rd over to Lasith Malinga. Tendulkar and Virat Kohli, however, defied the Sri Lanka bowlers with some superb batting. Tendulkar in particular looked in good touch and played a few delicious shots while Kohli also ensured the runs kept coming at a fair pace. The Master Blaster went on to bring up 3000 runs against Sri Lanka, making them the 2nd team against whom he has scored in excess of 3000, Australia being the other team.
Tendulkar fell against the run of play, just 2 short of his fifty, chopping on an Angelo Mathews delivery onto the leg stump. Rohit Sharma once again failed to live upto his promise, smashing a wide delivery to point where Dilshan took a sharp catch to leave India in a spot of bother. Virat Kohli went on to bring up his fifty and was key if India were to get their first ODI win abroad in close to 7 months.
Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli put India on course for a comfortable win thanks to their good partnership. India needed less than 80 runs at a not-so-challenging required rate when Raina decided to take Mathews on, but the big-hitting left hander could only hole out in the deep.
Raina’s wicket seemed to trigger the nerves for India, which until then was conspicuous by its absence. Skipper MS Dhoni could only last 5 deliveries, playing an ugly pull to be caught at mid-on while Kohli, who was suffering from cramps, was run out going for a non-existent single. India had slipped from 157/3 to 181/6 and with only 1 recognized batsman in Ravindra Jadeja at the crease, Sri Lanka looked favourites to come out on top.
Ashwin and Jadeja somehow displayed the calmness that seemed to have deserted the batsmen above them as they helped India close in on the target with some sensible batting. The duo added 53 runs and never took any risks till the target was within touching distance to help India sneak home to a much needed 4 wicket win.