Tuesday 3 February 2009 

Murali Equals The Record But India Take The Series

Murali Equals The Record But India Take The Series
Murali Equals The Record But India Take The Series
© REUTERS/Buddhika WeerasiNghe (SRI LANKA) Picture Supplied by Action Images
 

India 363-5 (Yuvraj Singh 117, Sehwag 116) beat
Sri Lanka
216 (Sangakkara 83, Ojha 4-38) by 147 runs

3rd One Day International, Colombo, India lead series 3-0

Muttiah Muralitharan moved level with Wasim Akram by taking his 502nd One Day International wicket but he was unable to stop India running out 147-run victors in the third match at the R. Premadesa Stadium in Colombo. The win marked a record-equalling eighth success in a row for the away side and ensured they cannot lose the five-match series.

Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag both scored centuries to propel India to a score of 363 for five before Sri Lanka were bowled out for 216, Pragyan Ojha picking up four wickets as Sri Lanka's challenge collapsed under the lights.

Yuvraj (117) and Sehwag (116) were in irresistable form, the Sri Lankan bowlers and fielders much less so after they had reduced India to 24 for two early on.

Both men helped themselves to 17 fours while Yuvraj also struck a six as he became, by virtue of getting to his century shortly before Sehwag, the first Indian to score a century against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka for ten years.

The pair added 221 for the third wicket in 28.5 overs in a stunning display of batting. Yuvraj was at the crease early after Sachin Tendulkar (7) was trapped in front by Dilhara Fernando and Gautam Gambhir was run out at the non-striker's end when Fernando tipped a Sehwag drive onto the stumps for ten.

Lesser batsmen might have settled for five overs or more of consolidation, but such was the ferocity of the counter-attack, with the 50 coming up in the eighth over that Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene felt compelled to hold back the second Power Play. That experiment lasted one over and to compound the home side's misery, India took their batting Power Play immediately which helped Yuvraj reach his half-century in 40 balls by taking Fernando for nine runs in three deliveries.

Sehwag reached his half-century by sweeping Muralitharan for four shortly after he was dropped in the deep by Fernando - he was to take full advantage, as was Yuvraj after he was put down by Sanath Jayasuriya off his own bowling.

Between the 200 partnership being brought up, Yuvraj reached his first century against Sri Lanka and 11th overall with a lip off his pads and Sehwag reached the tenth hundred of his career.

Finally, Sri Lanka got the breakthrough and as Yuvraj chipped Muralitharan to Chamara Kapugedera at point, the spinner earned a handshake from Sehwag for equalling Wasim Akram's record of 502 ODI wickets. He will have to wait to make the record his own, however, after he finished his ten overs with one for 60.

Yuvraj faced just 95 balls and despite Sehwag being brilliantly run out by Jayasuriya for 116 in 90 balls, India had plenty of batting to come. Suresh Raina was stumped by a vicious turning delivery from Ajantha Mendis for five but Yusuf Pathan swung his arms to glorious effect in the final overs.

Pathan took advantage of the tiring Sri Lankan fielders to blast a boundary-filled unbeaten 59 in 38 balls while Mahendra Singh Dhoni was unbeaten on 35 in 45 balls having hit just one four.

The boundary count, and Sri Lankan readers might be advised to look away now, was some 42 fours and five sixes.

Chasing in such conditions is never easy and rendered even more difficult when the target was above anything that had been achieved at the ground before - that record held by India, who chased down 271.

Their task was made even more difficult when after Tillakaratne Dilshan opened nicely with a boundary, Jayasuriya was bowled with his first ball to complete a miserable day for the left-hander. Praveen Kumar bowled an impeccable inswinger that was too close to cut with the result that he chopped the ball onto his stumps.

Dilshan was not to be perturbed and he mowed Kumar over midwicket for a huge six as well as a couple of boundaries as he and Sangakkara brought up Sri Lanka's half-century in the eighth over.

Dilshan was then bowled by Zaheer Khan as he attempted another huge shot to end a spirited partnership of 44 with Sangakkara.

Jayawardene, who found some form with a half-century in the last match, looked to have found the sort of touch that when on song, makes him one of the hardest batsmen to bowl to in world cricket and he passed 8,000 ODI runs as Sangakkara reached his 48th ODI half-century in 46 balls.

At this stage, and having taken the batting Power Play with their two best batsmen at the crease, Sri Lanka were still in with a chance but after Jayawardene (30) was out in the 19th over, India kept things so tight with the ball that the final result was inevitable.

Jayawardene's dismissal was an ugly affair as he spooned a catch to Sehwag off of Kumar, whose mastery of swing never allowed the Sri Lankans to settle as he picked up two for 41 from his seven overs.

Thilina Kandamby (10) was too keen to get on top of Sehwag and reverse swept him straight to Yuvraj while Kulasekara guided Yuvraj to Tendulkar at cover before the rest was left to left-arm spinner Ojha.

He bowled Chamara Kapugedera with a beautiful delivery that turned and bounced as the batsman played down the wrong line for two before ending a useful knock of 22 from Farveez Maharoof when he edged to slip, Gautam Gambhir taking a smart low catch.

Muralitharan was adjudged to have edged behind where Dhoni took the catch - the spinner's reaction, all smiles, suggested that he didn't hit it and although Mendis survived Ojha's hat-trick ball, his fourth wicket saw Sangakkara's innings of 83 in 82 balls ended when he mis-timed a sweep and was caught by Yuvraj Singh at fine leg.

Dilhara Fernando threw the bat at the death, hitting two fours and a six to entertain the crowd but it merely delayed the inevitable before he was run out for 16, Yuvraj, predictably, diverting a throw from Tendulkar onto the stumps.

© Cricket World 2009