India 294-7 (Gambhir 88, Tiwary 65) beat
Sri Lanka 274 (Pathan 5-61) by 20 runs
Fifth One-Day International, Pallekele
India moved up to second in the ICC One-Day International rankings after wrapping up a comfortable 20-run victory in the final ODI against Sri Lanka in Pallekele. Gautam Gambhir, Manoj Tiwary and MS Dhoni each passed 50 in the visitors’ total of 294 for seven, while Irfan Pathan took five for 61 to help bowl Sri Lanka out for 274.
After winning the toss and electing to bat at the start of the day, Indian opener Ajinkya Rahane – replacing the injured Virender Sehwag at the top of the order – lasted only until the first ball of the sixth over before becoming the first man to fall; leg-before to Thisara Perera. The in-form Virat Kohli then made 23 during a second-wicket stand of 48 with Gautam Gambhir, but he and the out-of-sorts Rohit Sharma departed in quick succession to Nuwan Pradeep and India were tottering.
Fortunately for them, Manoj Tiwary joined Gambhir and the pair laid the foundations for what would prove to be a winning total. They put on 110 for the fourth-wicket in 20 overs, with Gambhir, apparently effortlessly, bringing up his fifty off 51 balls and Tiwary reaching his off 58. Tiwary eventually fell for 65 in the batting powerplay as the first of two wickets in two balls for Lasith Malinga. Suresh Raina was the other and Sri Lanka, for the second time in the innings, sensed an opportunity.
However, despite losing Gambhir with the score on 213 in the 39th over, Indian captain MS Dhoni and all-rounder Irfan Pathan combined to hit 75 off the last 10 overs and take their side up to an impressive total. Dhoni blasted 58 off only 38 balls and played the role that Suresh Raina had played so well in the last match to just as good effect; while Pathan partnered him effectively and ended unbeaten on 29 off 28 balls.
Tillakaratne Dilshan was sent packing in the second over of Sri Lanka’s run chase, before Upul Tharanga and Lahiru Thirimanne steadied the ship briefly during their partnership of 48. Tharanga, though, departed to Pathan for 31 to bring about something of a procession of wickets. Dinesh Chandimal contributed only eight before being trapped in front by Ashok Dinda; Angelo Mathews was run-out for 13; and Chamara Kapugedera made just nine on his latest international comeback as the hosts slumped to 102 for five.
Lahiru Thirimanne, allied with Jeevan Mendis, then went about bringing them back into the match and batted sublimely during their sixth-wicket stand of 102. Thirimanne reached his 50 off 81 balls before being needlessly run-out for 77 with 91 still needed off 14.1 overs. Mendis continued for a while longer, but when he was eighth man out with the score on 256 the game was effectively over.
The two sides next meet in a Twenty20 International on Tuesday, before the hosts take a break from international cricket to take part in the inaugural Sri Lanka Premier League before September’s World T20. India will travel to New Zealand for two Tests and two Twenty20 Internationals prior to that tournament.
© Cricket World 2012
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