Irfan Pathan & co. bowl India to a well-earned victory: India defeated Sri Lanka by a comprehensive margin of 50 runs in the Second Match of the Asia Cup. The bowling was pretty good for India with Irfan Pathan claiming 4 wickets and R Ashwin and R Vinay Kumar bagging three wickets each on a responsive pitch at Mirpur. Set to chase the target of 305 runs, Sri Lanka remained in the hunt with Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara scoring half centuries but not lasting the distance to reach the destination.
The Sri Lankan run chase of 305 began on an explosive note from Mahela Jayawardene. But it was cut short to 31 for 1 when Tillakaratne Dilshan (7) pulled a short ball from Irfan Pathan into the hands of mid wicket. Sri Lanka continued with the tempo as Kumar Sangakkara joined Mahela Jayawardene. The duo took Sri Lanka to 124 in the 19th over before Mahela Jayawardene lost his wicket trying to guide a short and wide delivery from Pathan to thirdman but ending up giving catching practice to MS Dhoni. Jayawardene was on song till then with a lovely knock of 78 from 59 balls with 10 fours and 2 sixes.
India seemed to be in control of things after the Jayawardene dismissal. With R Ashwin surprisingly extracting turn and bounce from an otherwise flat surface, Sri Lanka was soon struggling to keep up the pace. In the 26th over, Dinesh Chandimal (13) threw his wicket away when he attempted a big shot leaving his crease but only to get foxed by a carrom ball from Ashwin.
Sri Lanka at 152 for 3 bounced back again as Sangakkara found a perfect partner in Lahiru Thirimanne to take the score to 196 for 3 in 35 overs by drinks. However, the first ball after drinks which was also the start of the batting powerplay saw Sangakkara (65 from 87 balls with 2 fours and a six) slog sweeping Ashwin flat in the air but straight into the hands of the forward diving Ravindra Jadeja at deep mid wicket. In the same over, Ashwin struck again when he had Lahiru Thirimanne (29 from 37 balls with a six) missing a forcing sweep shot to get out lbw. The match seemed to be in the hands of India totally with SL slipping to 198 for 5.
Nuwan Kulasekara, who was promoted up the order, smashed a couple of boundaries to scare the Indians. But a nagging slower one from Vinay Kumar sent him back to the pavilion without much damage in the 39th over. The very next ball, Vinay was lucky to dismiss Chamara Kapugedera (0) whose square drive was brilliantly caught by the diving Kohli at backward point. Sri Lanka still were in a chance at 216 for 4 because Upul Tharanga and all-rounder Farveez Maharoof were at the crease.
It was only in the 42nd over that India could breathe easy again when Upul Tharanga (17) dragged a forcing square drive off Irfan Pathan onto his stumps. Farveez Maharoof, who hit a four and a six in a cameo of 18 (from 19 balls) got out smacking a wide full toss from Vinay Kumar to extra covers. Irfan Pathan finished the match in the 46th over when Seekkuge Prasanna miscued his slower one to covers.
Sri Lanka got bowled out for 254 in 45.1 overs with Irfan Pathan claiming match-winning figures of 8.1-1-32-4! R Ashwin with 9-0-39-3 and Vinay Kumar with 9-0-55-3 also played a crucial role in India’s victory. The Man of the Match award went to Virat Kohli who followed his 108 with two catches.
Gambhir, Kohli tons carry India to 304 for 3: India finished with a strong total of 304 for 3 riding on centuries from Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli in the second match of the Asia Cup against Sri Lanka. Although it’s a big total, one cannot say if India will be able to defend it as the Sri Lankans have a long batting line-up and the pitch hasn’t offered any assistance to the pacers and also the spinners!
It was a slow start for India and in the 6th over, it was huge disappointment for Sachin Tendulkar and his many fans who have been waiting for that elusive 100th ton! Unfortunately even today it didn’t happen as Sachin Tendulkar (6 from 19 balls) drove a high full toss from Suranga Lakmal into the hands of short covers.
Tendulkar was really unlucky to miss out on what could be the flattest pitch on earth! The next batsman for India – Virat Kohli continued his Hobart form along with Gautam Gambhir and both the batsmen helped themselves to easy centuries! The Lankan bowlers hardly beat the bat as the pitch just didn’t offer them anything. The only difficult part for Gambhir and Kohli was the ball wasn’t coming onto the bat that well.
The second wicket pair of India added 205 runs before Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli both got out in the 43rd over trying to loft Farveez Maharoof for sixes but struggling to do so because of the slowness of the pitch. Gambhir departed first on 100 (from 118 balls with 7 fours) which was his 10th ODI century and his fifth against Sri Lanka. Virat Kohli finished with 108 (from 120 balls with 7 fours) which was also his 10th ODI century. It was Kohli’s second consecutive century against Sri Lanka and also a second consecutive century at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, his previous one being the World Cup hundred.
Sri Lanka couldn’t restrict India despite two new batsmen coming at the crease in the slog overs. Skipper MS Dhoni with 46* (from 26 balls with 6 fours and a six) and Suresh Raina with 30* (from 3 fours and a six) did a perfect finishing job for India. It needed some skill from the two batsmen to score boundaries out of deliveries that were hard to score. Sri Lanka missed yorker specialist Lasith Malinga and the three pace bowlers used struggled to contain the runs in the final stages.
Toss and Teams: Mahela Jayawardene has won the toss and elected to bowl first in the Second Match of the Micromax Asia Cup 2012 at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka.
The news from the Sri Lankan Camp is that Angelo Mathews is yet to recover from his calf injury, so he will remain to be out of action. And the bigger news is that Lasith Malinga is not playing! He gets replaced with Suranga Lakmal. Seekkuge Prasanna comes in the absence of Rangana Herath.
India on the other hand have brought in Rohit Sharma to replace Virender Sehwag who is not playing this tournament. And Praveen Kumar and R Vinay Kumar replace Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav who are also out of this tournament.
Pitch Report: By default there should be plenty of runs in this pitch. Sunil Gavaskar who came up with a pitch reports reckons that around 600 runs will be scored. The pitch for today’s game looks slightly blackish and has more grass on it. The seamers could get some aid from the pitch which could be slightly damp underneath.
India Playing XI: Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (Captain & Wicket Keeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Irfan Pathan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar
Sri Lanka Playing XI: Mahela Jayawardene (Captain), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara (Wicket Keeper), Dinesh Chandimal, Upul Tharanga, Chamara Kapugedera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Farveez Maharoof, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Seekkuge Prasanna