Sunday 6 July 2008 

Sri Lanka Retain Asia Cup With 100-Run Win Over India

A blistering century from Sanath Jayasuriya followed by Ajantha Mendis taking six wickets enabled Sri Lanka to beat India by 100 runs and retain their Asia Cup title in Karachi.

Jayasuriya's 125 propelled Sri Lanka to a score of 273 all out before Mendis returned figures of six for nine to complete a comprehensive win as India were bowled out for 173.

Both innings followed similar patterns with excellent starts from aggressive top order players as Virender Sehwag smashed 60 from 36 balls for India before the turn to spin slowed both sides.

However, Sri Lanka were slowed but able to counter-attack, thanks mainly to Jayasuriya and a Tillakaratne Dilshan and from 66 for four they posted a respectable score.

Mahela Jayawardene went to Mendis before the more experienced and more successful Muttiah Muralitaran and the decision paid dividends with Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh (nought) dismissed in the tenth over.

He had Suresh Raina bowled for 16, Rohit Sharma trapped in front for three, Irfan Pathan caught by Jayawardene for three and RP Singh lbw first ball.

There was no way back for India despite captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hitting 49, and the game was sealed in the 38th over when Ishant Sharma was bowled by Chaminda Vaas in the 40th over of their run chase.

Earlier, Jayasuriya launched a scintillating counter-attack to help Sri Lanka recover after they were asked to bat and lost four early wickets.

India quickly made good their decision with four wickets in 12 overs but the reigning champions were 155 for four after 25 overs with Jayasuriya having made his second century of this year's tournament.

Kumar Sangakkara was run out for four and Ishant Sharma picked up the wickets of Jayawardene (11), Chamara Kapugedera (five) and Chamara Silva (one).

To 39-year-old Jayasuriya, that was irrelevant and he launched a blistering assault on the bowlers, RP Singh, who dropped him in the deep, going for 26 in one over.

It was if he had come in with the score on 100 for one after 20 overs and his running between the wickets was as keen as someone aged 19, let alone 39 and only when Dhoni turned to spin was he forced to slow down his scoring rate.

His century came from 79 deliveries and a half-century partnership with Tillakaratne Dilshan saw Jayasuriya contributing 46 of those runs.

Dilshan joined in the fun to hit Pathan for three fours in an over as he was given the first chance in the tournament for an extended stay in the middle.

Spin eventually handed Sri Lanka the crucial breakthrough when Jayasuriya was caught by Ishant Sharma off of Sehwag for 125 from 114 balls in the 36th over.

The crucial partnership with Dilshan was worth 131 and Jayasuriya hit nine fours and five sixes.

Dilshan completed his half-century from 68 balls but was soon out, caught by Dhoni off of Pathan for 56 and any hopes of Sri Lanka posting 300 or more were also gone, despite the best efforts of Vaas (19) and Nuwan Kulasekara (29 not out) late on.

Ishant Sharma finished with three for 52 while RP Singh came back well to take three for 67 while Pathan ended with two for 67.

When Sehwag raced to a 26-ball half-century, with four of his ten fours coming from one Vaas over, Sri Lanka were on the back foot, despite the early capture of Gautam Gambhir, caught by Dilshan off of Vaas for six.

The game changed when Jayawardene threw the ball to Mendis and with his second ball he had Sehwag stumped by Sangakkara and his fourth saw Yuvraj comprehensively bowled.

Mendis was rested for the match between the two sides which India won earlier in the week and if he was being hidden from the Indian batsmen, it was almost as good a decision as Jayawardene's to hand him the ball ahead of Muralitharan on the day.

John Pennington
© Cricket World 2008