Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Mahela Jayawardene's sensible 94* takes Sri Lanka to victory against India in 2005 Indian Oil Cup
August 3, 2005 - India, Sri Lanka and West Indies were part of a tri-series in 2005 hosted by Sri Lanka, called the Indian Oil Cup.
While West Indies were not in great shape, both India and Sri Lanka had good teams and were playing some decent cricket. The captaincy had changed hands for India with Rahul Dravid taking over the reins of the leadership from Sourav Ganguly.
India lost their opening fixture against Sri Lanka by three wickets but came back strongly in the next match against West Indies to win by 6 wickets. Sri Lanka, on the back of their victory against India, beat West Indies by 50 runs.
As the two teams met in the 4th match of the tri-series, the encounter was expected to be a hard-fought one. The opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly added 67 runs before Sehwag was bowled by Pradeep Jeyaprakashdaran on 32.
Ganguly brought up his milestone of 10,000 ODI runs, becoming only the third batsman to achieve the feat after Sachin Tendulkar and Inzamam Ul Haq. However, the southpaw was not in the best of forms and though he scored a half-century, it took him 110 balls to do so.
This created some pressure which was not helped by VVS Laxman's 43-ball 22 run hand. When MS Dhoni was dismissed on 20, shortly after the dismissals of Ganguly and that of Dravid for a golden duck, India were in a spot of bother. Suresh Raina also departed soon and at 161/6 from 41.4 overs, the Indian innings did not seem to be going anywhere.
It was credit to 30s from Mohammad Kaif and Irfan Pathan that India could play out their 50 overs and put 220 runs on the board. Unexpectedly, Tillakaratne Dilshan was the pick of the bowlers for Sri Lanka and dismissed four Indian batsmen while giving away just 29 runs from his 10 overs.
The Indian bowlers started well with Irfan Pathan nicking off Upul Tharanga for 4 in the very first over. Kumar Sangakkara was also dismissed shortly after the powerplay by Balaji and India sensed an opening.
Three quick dismissals followed. Marvan Atapattu was run-out by Suresh Raina while Tillakaratne Dilshan and Russel Arnold were accounted for by Ashish Nehra, Dilhara Lokuhettige was caught by Dhoni off Harbhajan Singh for a duck.
Mahela Jayawardene and Upul Chandana then joined hands to steady the ship for Sri Lanka. The duo had a 126-run partnership as they not only ran quick singles and doubles but struck a few crisp boundaries to take Sri Lanka home in the 48th over.
While all the Indian bowlers did a fine job, they felt the need of a full-time fifth bowler. Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag shared the following duties and gave away 55 runs from their nine overs, which may not seem too much but given the low-scoring match, this is where the game slipped out of India's hands.
"When Upul came in I told him that we needed to set small targets like five-over blocks and score at four or five runs an over. And whenever they got a wicket-taking bowler like Harbhajan [Singh] and Irfan we made sure we don't lose a wicket. We were lucky to get good runs against Harbhajan and then we saw that we had hit off with our plan successfully," Jayawardene said after the match.
Jayawardene remained unbeaten on 94 off 104 deliveries in an knock that included 9 fours and 1 six and was played at a strike rate of 82.46. For shepherding Sri Lanka to a 4-wicket victory, Jayawardene was awarded the Man of the Match.
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