India 288-5 (Gambhir 102, Raina 65no) beat
Sri Lanka 286-5 (Sangakkara 73) by 5 wickets
Third One-Day International, RPS Colombo
Gautam Gambhir led India to victory in a closely-contested third One-Day International at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. He hit 102, while Suresh Raina and Irfan Pathan finished the job as India passed Sri Lanka’s impressive total of 286 for five in the final over.
Raina and Pathan had come together at a crucial stage in India’s run chase, following the run-out of Gambhir for 102 from 101 balls by Isuru Udana, which had left them on 196 for five in the 39th over. Both men enjoyed some luck at first, but shared an unbroken and match-winning sixth-wicket stand of 92 from only 67 balls to give their side a two-one lead in the five-match series.
Thisara Perera had dismissed Virender Sehwag cheaply for the second match in succession at the start of India’s run chase, but Gambhir played fluently – bringing up his 50 from 43 balls and his 100 from 96 – and found support from Virat Kohli (38 from 65 balls) and MS Dhoni (31 from 49). Rohit Sharma again failed, falling first ball to Lasith Malinga, while Gambhir’s eventual dismissal for 102 was the last in a mini-collapse of three for 16. However, fortunately for India, Raina and Pathan were able to hold their nerve and in the end Sri Lanka’s back-up seam attack of Udana and Angelo Mathews wasn’t strong enough.
The home side were not helped by an injury sustained by Kumar Sangakkara whilst he was batting which meant Dinesh Chandimal had to keep wicket throughout India’s innings. Sangakkara was struck on the hand when on 24 by Ashok Dinda and, although he batted on to make 73, this was later diagnosed as a fracture – something which will keep him out of the final two matches in this series as well as the whole of the inaugural Sri Lanka Premier League that begins on August 11th.
His fourth-wicket partnership of 121 with Mahela Jayawardene had helped the home side recover from a horror start. Two wickets from Zaheer Khan and one from Irfan Pathan had reduced them to 20 for three, but both Sangakkara and Jayawardene made half-centuries. Angelo Mathews and Jeevan Mendis then added late momentum during an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 104 off 72 balls, with Mathews ending on 71 off 57 balls and Mendis on 45 off 40 balls, as Sri Lanka finished on 286 for five.
Ultimately, though, thanks to Gambhir and Raina, it wouldn’t quite be enough.
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