Barely a week after winning the Champions Trophy in England, the world No. 1 ODI team India gave a poor account of themselves in the Caribbean where they crashed to their second straight defeat in the tri-nation series.
Sri Lanka, riding on brilliant hundreds from openers Upul Tharanga and Mahela Jayawardene, amassed 348-1 after being inserted by Virat Kohli, who was captaining the India seniors team for the first time. The wicket seemed two-paced and India chose to bring in Shami Ahmed for Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, a move that backfired. Not only did Shami fail to provide new-ball wickets, his wayward line and length at the end of the innings proved cannon fodder for Tharanga and Jayawardene.
Tharanga batted through the innings making 174 not out, the highest ODI score in the Caribbean, while Jayawardene made 107. The duo added 213 for the first wicket after which Sri Lanka captain Angelo Matthews promoted himself to one-down and added a further 135 in a little under 12 overs with Tharanga against India’s lackluster bowling.
India thus became the first team to take more than one wicket in a completed ODI innings of 50 overs. The other player who came into the team today – Murali Vijay – dropped Jayawardene on 23 before proceeding to make a slow 30 that did more harm to India’s asking rate than good.
Tharanga, who had led Jayawardene take lead, accelerated after the senior pro fell having made his 16th ODI hundred. Tharanga’s first fifty came up in 76 balls, but he sped up to reach the hundred in another 48. The next 74 came in just 35 balls as he finished with Sri Lanka’s second highest individual score after Sanath Jayasuriya’s 189 in Sharjah against the same opposition.
India’s response to the steep target was strangely slow. They began very cautiously with Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan content on playing out some quiet overs. Each time an Indian batsman tried to break free, he got out. They made just 28 in the 10 overs of fielding restrictions and the game had practically slipped out of their grasp by then.
India have relied heavily on Kohli to bail them out in tough chases. The India captain came in at Dhawan’s fall. With the required rate already a steep 8.5 by the 15th over, Kohli tried to hit out against Mathews but mistimed a hook-shot to the hands of Lasith Malinga at fine-leg.
Sri Lanka needed to restrict India to under 278 for a bonus point. But for most part of the innings, India were struggling to get past Tharanga’s tally in the game. Ravindra Jadeja’s unbeaten 49 delayed the inevitable but the margin of the defeat leaves India on the brink of an early exit from the tournament.