India 237-9 (Dhoni 76, Raina 54, Mendis 3-56) beat Sri Lanka 204 all out (Jayawardene 94, Zaheer Khan 3-23) by 33 runs
3rd ODI, R. Premadasa Stadium, Colombo: India lead the series 2-1
A counter-attacking innings of 94 from Mahela Jayawardene lifted the crowd in Colombo but couldn't fetch his side a victory as India won the third Idea Cup match by 33 runs - a win that was inevitable once they had reduced the home side to 59 for six in pursuit of 238 to win. Jayawardene's fighting innings delayed proceedings, enlivened the crowd and forced this young Indian side to work harder than they might have imagined for their win which puts them 2-1 ahead in the five-match series.
Half-centuries from captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina boosted India, helping them reach a score of 237 for nine although Ajantha Mendis, ever a threat, picked up three wickets for 56 runs.
Sri Lanka reached 18 before events began to unfold with the bat, as under the lights batting appeared a lot more difficult as Sanath Jayasuriya was caught behind by Dhoni off of Praveen Kumar, before Kumar Sangakkara, Chamara Kapugedera and Chamara Silva were trapped in front by the moving ball with Kumar and Zaheer Khan making nuisances of themselves.
Tillakaratne Dilshan (16) counter-attacked briefly with a couple of pulled boundaries but when he tried one shot too many to be caught behind off of Munaf Patel and Chaminda Vaas was bowled by a Harbhajan Singh doosra, Sri Lanka were six down and yet to break 60.
Crucially, their captain and best batsman remained at the crease, and he first played with patience alongside Nuwan Kulasekera but once he was dismissed, trapped in front by Yuvraj Singh, Jayawardene, left with the tail, was compelled to force the issue.
Although Thilan Thushara batted admirably, as he had in the previous match whent faced with a similar situation, Jayawardene showed some brilliant innovation and a cool head under pressure as the pair built a partnership that at first frustrated India, then began to make the bowlers and fielders nervous - three catches of varying levels of difficulty were offered and none taken.
Their stand of 81 was broken when Thushara was comprehensively bowled by Zaheer for 30 and with Jayawardene struggling in draining conditions and having to call for a runner, he was dismissed six short of a century when he scooped the ball in the air backward of square off of Munaf and Praveen Kumar took a simple catch.
That left Mendis alongside Muttiah Muralitharan and they never looked comfortable and the innings was ended when Muralitharan was bowled by Patel to end the innings with an over to spare.
Earlier, India had made a good start with Virat Kohli riding his luck but again showcasing his undoubted talent with a sprightly innings of 25 before a sharp piece of work by Chamara Silva saw him run out.
Opening partner Gautam Gambhir (eight) was preparing to play the anchor role but was unluckily given out trapped in front by Nuwan Kulasekera when the ball pitched outside the leg stump. There is no referral system in place in One Day cricket, and Gambhir for one may lament that particular decision.
Yuvraj Singh flashed all too briefly with a six before he was well caught by Mahela Jayawardene at slip off of the same bowler - Sri Lanka were electric in the field throughout.
Subramaniam Badrinath played a cool and collected innings in the second match but struggled to get going on this occasion before lofting Ajantha Mendis to Chaminda Vaas at mid-off.
Raina and Dhoni played both Mendis in particular, and Muttiah Muralitharan, with a previously unseen level of authority and competence and with Raina in sublime touch, it took a run out to end his innings. Dhoni must shoulder the blame for after pushing the ball to Tillakaratne Dilshan, one of the best fielders in the world, never mind in Sri Lanka, he hesitated mid-run.
Raina was already committed and was out by yards. It was a cruel end to an 80-ball innings of 54 which contained four fours and one six.
Dhoni, however, was determined not to face his team-mate too soon and went on to complete his own half-century and added 67 runs with Rohit Sharma (32) before Sharma was caught by Chamara Kapugedera, Thilan Thushara the bowler.
Dhoni battled against a bad back, hitting 76 from 80 balls which included eight fours before Mendis hit back to have Harbhajan Singh caught behind for two and Dhoni caught by Jayawardene in consecutive deliveries in the penultimate over of the innings.
Zaheer Khan survived the hat-trick ball but was out from the final ball, leaving Praveen Kumar unbeaten on two.
HOW THE INNINGS PROGRESSED:
India won the toss and chose to bat first.
10 overs: India 40-2 - Sri Lanka 41-4
20 overs: India 76-3 - Sri Lanka 70-6
30 overs: India 125-4 - Sri Lanka 100-7
40 overs: India 167-5 - Sri Lanka 152-7
50 overs: India 237-8 - (Sri Lanka 202 all out after 49)
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