Scorecard | Action in images
COLOMBO: Gautam Gambhir’s brisk century enabled India to defeat Sri Lanka by five wickets in a thrilling last-over finish at the R. Premdasa Stadium here on Saturday night.
The win gives India a 2-1 lead in the five-match ODI series.
Set a target of 287, India survived some anxious moments to gun down the requirement in 49.4 overs.
This was the highest score ever chased down at the Premadasa, and the first time that Sri Lanka lost an ODI at home after posting a total in excess of 250.
Sri Lanka had earlier overcome a disastrous start (20 for three) to amass what they would have considered to be a match-winning total.
India lost Virender Sehwag early and sought to rebuild first through Gambhir (102) and Virat Kohli (38) and then through the southpaw and M.S. Dhoni (31).
Gambhir raced to his half-century in 43 balls, including seven hits to the fence, and reached his 11th ODI century off just 96 deliveries.
India was pegged back by Lasith Malinga’s double strike in the 36th over. At 180-2, the slinger returned to clean up two scalps in as many balls, uprooting Dhoni’s stumps with a trademark yorker and trapping the unfortunate Rohit Sharma in front on the next delivery for yet another duck.
Gambhir fell victim to a sensational direct hit by Isuru Udana from mid on.
India needed 91 from 11.3 overs at that stage, an ask that was commendably fulfilled by Suresh Raina (65) and Irfan Pathan (34).
Raina and Pathan edged and smashed their way to a 92-run sixth-wicket partnership in just 67 balls. Victory was achieved when Pathan smashed Angelo Mathews' fourth ball of the 50th over to the deep mid wicket fence.
Earlier, Sri Lanka elected to bat and recovered from 20-3 to post an imposing 286 for five, a total that centered on two classy century partnerships.
Jayawardene’s decision to bat first appeared to have backfired when Sri Lanka lost three key batsmen in a trice for precious little on the board.
Zaheer Khan and Pathan bowled with swing and bounce initially, testing the batsmen with probing lengths. Tillakaratne Dilshan was the first to get out when he defended against Zaheer and the ball bounced on to the stumps, dislodging the bails.
Upul Tharanga and Dinesh Chandimal too failed to hang around, and it was left to the old warhorses Jayawardene (65) and Kumar Sangakkara (73) to effect a revival. The duo got together at 20 for 3, after Pathan had trapped Chandimal with one that came in, and added 121 in just 23.5 overs.
Sangakkara, who had struck a laboriously slow hundred in the first ODI in a losing cause, began by creaming boundaries off India’s seamers. Jayawardene took a while to get going, scoring just one from the first the first 12 balls he faced.
But once he got settled, Jayawardene picked fours effortlessly off the variety of India’s bowlers - square-cutting Rahul Sharma (Pragyan Ojha’s replacement), walking down the pitch to boss Ashok Dinda (Umesh Yadav’s replacement), and striding ahead purposefully to Zaheer and Irfan.
Jayawardene was out leg before to Rahul Sharma in the 30th over and Sangakkara departed trying to force the pace in the Powerplay, leaving the stage clear for Mathews and Jeevan Mendis to up the ante with another century stand, this time at a blistering pace.
The two massacred the attack for 104 runs for the sixth wicket, including 97 in the last ten overs, as the bowling fell apart at the death. Mathews was caught-behind off an Irfan no-ball on 33, but gave no chances thereafter. He spanked five fours and a six in his 57-ball 71.
Mendis, in the team for Lahiru Thirimanne, made good his chance by providing Mathews with an ideal foil, tonking a brisk 45 and taking Sri Lanka to 286.