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Poor bowling led to Lanka’s unbelievable defeat

Malinga, Kulasekera the chief offenders:

In one of the most amazing games seen in one-day cricket, India came back from the dead to beat Sri Lanka by seven wickets and extend their stay in Australia in a Commonwealth Bank Tri series game, under lights at the Bellerive Oval on Tuesday.

Helped by a turbo-charged century - 133 not out in 86 balls by right hander Virat Kholi, India kept their hopes alive of figuring in the best of three finals against Australia starting on March

Going into this game the Indians were down, but yet not out. And when Sri Lanka bashed them to make 320 for 5 with centuries from Tillakaratne Dilshan 160 not out and Kumar Sangakkara 105, it looked as though the World Cup champions would have to take the next flighthome.

Whirlwind knock

But the Lankans did not bargain for a whirlwind knock by Kholi. Kholi just took the Sri Lankan attack by the scruff of its neck and wrung it to all corners of the Oval and over it as well with arrogance.

When the game began, Sri Lanka was sitting pretty with 15 points to India’s 10 and a tie, a no decision or a win was going to put Sri Lanka into the finals. And after having beaten India earlier, Lankans took the field favourites.

India had a tough ask. They had to beat Sri Lanka and in addition obtain a bonus point to stay alive. That they achieved both, was great credit to their resilience and in achieving this proved that they were worthy World Cup Champions in this style of game.

Bonus point

After Sri Lanka made 320 for 5 in 50, India had to get 321 in 40 overs to obtain the bonus point and win which would give them 5 points and bring them on equal points with Sri Lanka on 15.

The magnificent centuries made by Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kuma Sangakkara and who were also involved in a record stand for the second wicket, was finally of no significance as Sri Lanka lost and Virat Kholi took centre stage. The manner in which the Indian batsmen set about their task, it was obvious that they had a game plan. And they set about executing that game plan very intelligently. First it was Virender Sehwag 30 in

16 balls, Sachin Tendulkar 39 in 30, Gautam Gambhir 63 in 64 and then Virat Kholi 133 in 86 and Suresh Raina 40 in 24 to stun the Lankans.

Now that India achieved the impossible, Sri Lanka must now beat Australia on Friday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to earn a best of three final romp with the hosts. To get beat and the Lankans will make an early departure. After the batsmen performed to capacity led by Dilshan and Sangakara who were involved in a record stand of 200 for the second wicket, the bowlers and fielders let the side down completely.

It was a sad sight watching the Lankan bowlers getting a beating which could be best described as a public caning. Chief culprit was slinger Lasith Malinga.

After getting the wicket of Tendulkar, when he came on again he was just putrid.

He did not bowl to his field. In addition his Yorkers were directed here, there and everywhere. He was just ordinary and he deserves the hammering he got conceding 96 in 7.1 overs. Never has he been treated so harshly before.

A thrashing

The usually economical Nuwan Kulasekera too took a thrashing going for 71 in 8 overs. In the circumstances there was nothing that skipper Mahela Jayawardena could do.

Jayawardena was charge sheeted for delaying the bowling power plays and persisting with Lasith Malinga.The skipper said that Malinga becomes more effective when the ball gets older and he begins to reverse swing. But this time round, Malinga was just off colour.

It is easy for critics to criticize after the game. One has to be a captain to know what it is.

The captain can tell and show. It all depends on how the players perform. Once a game is lost it is the skipper who has to cop the blame. Jayawardena’s captaincy has been top class. In fact the knowledgeable here talk of his captaincy being better than that of Australia’s Michael Clarke and India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni. So it is unfair to single him out for Sri Lanka’s defeat. Hobart,Tuesday

 

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