Tuesday 12 February 2008 

Dilshan Half-Century Brings Sri Lanka CB Series Win

India 195-5 (R Sharma 70no, Gambhir 35) in 29 overs
Sri Lanka 154-2 (Dilshan 62no) in 19 overs

Sri Lanka won by eight wickets (Duckworth/Lewis method)

Tillakaratne Dilshan scored a superb half-century as Sri Lanka beat India by virtue of the Duckworth Lewis method, to record their first win, by eight wickets, of the Commonwealth Bank Series in Canberra.

Rain followed the conclusion of India�s innings and as a result Sri Lanka�s innings was reduced to 21 overs and their victory target was revised to 154.

There was a thought before the Indian innings that perhaps a 29 over innings would leave India with a slight dilemma, as to whether they should go for an all out attack as one might associate with Twenty20 cricket, or try and keep wickets in hand as we would expect to see in ODI cricket.

However, given that Sri Lanka�s innings had been altered to 21 overs it was always possible they would feel they had the freedom to approach their run chase like it was a Twenty20 innings. This proved to be the case as the Sri Lankan opening batsmen raced to 41 from just three overs before Sanath Jayasuriya was caught by MS Dhoni off Ishant Sharma for a swashbuckling 27 from just 13 balls.

Wicket-keeper batsman Kumar Sangakkara tried to be aggressive but never really got going, he lofted Harbhajan Singh�s first ball straight to Ishant Sharma at mid off to leave his team 69-2 and give India a wicket that they desperately needed.

Any thoughts that the Sangakkara�s demise might signal a shift in momentum in India�s favour were proved misguided as Tillakaratne Dilshan who was promoted to open the innings scored a very innovative half century from just 47 balls. He was given great support by his captain Mahela Jayawardene.

The Jayawardene-Dilshan partnership continued to flourish as little by little they continued to close in on victory. Indeed their unbroken partnership of 85 saw Sri Lanka home to a well deserved win.

Play in Canberra was delayed by over three hours due to rain. When the rain did finally relent, Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene elected to field, perhaps hoping for some assistance from the damp conditions and clouds overhead.

India converted a circumspect start into a flyer, as they found themselves on 42-0 after seven overs having been 1-0 after two.

Sehwag was caught at third man by Muralitharan for 14 just as he looked to be putting Sri Lanka firmly on the back foot.

Sachin Tendulkar has only played two Twenty20 games in his entire career, but he demonstrated some amazing stroke play and great improvisation which wouldn�t be out of place in the shortest form of the game. However perhaps looking to up the pace after Sehwag's downfall Tendulkar attempted to smash Maharoof over mid on for a huge six, he only succeeded in getting a thick edge to Kulasekara who took a good catch on the third man boundary. The little master made a rapid 32 from just 30 balls and his dismissal left India 49-2.

Following the fall of the Indian openers in quick succession Gautam Gambhir and Rohit Sharma, both in extremely good form, seemed happy to rotate the strike and keep the scoreboard ticking perhaps aware of depth of batting that was to follow. Nevertheless their 50 partnership came off just 57 balls as Gambhir in particular appeared more and more prepared to go over the top as the partnership grew in stature.

With ten overs left in India�s reduced innings there were clear signs that Gambhir and Sharma were trying to up the tempo. However Gambhir was run out for a very well made 35 from 33 balls to leave India 113-3

His downfall brought M S Dhoni to the crease. Dhoni has been in superb form in this series and from the moment he came to the crease India scoring rate went up a gear, with Rohit Sharma, they added 50 of just 35 balls. Sharma seemed to grow in confidence with every ball he faced, having started his innings very slowly, he reached his 2nd ODI half century from just 53 balls.

Dhoni was run out in the penultimate over for a brilliantly made 31 from 26 balls his partnership with Sharma worth 68 runs from 46 balls was a splendid one and came at a time when India really needed to accelerate.

India ended up scoring 194-5 from their allotted 29 overs with Rohit Sharma being the stand out player scoring 70 not out from 64 balls.

Sri Lanka�s victory means that they now have six points, Australia seven while India still top the Commonwealth Bank series table with eight points.

Aaron Kumar
� Cricket World 2008

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