India 363-5 (Yuvraj Singh 117, Sehwag 116) v Sri Lanka
3rd One Day International, Colombo, India lead series 2-0
Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag both scored centuries to propel India to a score of 363 for five in the third One Day International against Sri Lanka at the R. Premadesa Stadium in Colombo, despite Muttiah Muralitharan taking his record-equalling 502nd ODI wicket.
Yuvraj (117) and Sehwag (116) were in irresistable form, the Sri Lankan bowlers and fielders 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.
© Cricket World 2009