Sharjah: The lions were let loose at the Sharjah Cricket Ground and what did they do? They tore apart everything in sight! Sri Lanka on Friday went on a rampage to set India an intimidating 295 for victory on Friday. The pillars on which the Sri Lanka built their colossal target were two marvellous centuries off the blades of Mahela Jayawardena and Marvan Atapattu. India paid a heavy price for going in with only three front line bowlers in Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan and Sunil Joshi for India stared off very well dismissing both the openers cheaply.
In fact, even after their departure they held fort till the 18th over where Sri Lanka were averaging just above three. But from there on in, it was the indomitable lions all the way.Jayawardena (128 of 122 balls) in the company of Atapattu (102 not out) got stuck into the Indian attack, comprising of just about all the ten. Barring Kambli and Badani everybody else had a bowl. It was a combination of scintillating batting coupled with some mediocre bowling in the middle overs that propelled Sri Lanka to 294 for 5 in 50 overs.
Jayawardena was simply irresistible with his stroke play, while Atapattu was as solid as he gets. Both milked the bowlers around at will as the Indians were reduced to being mere spectators.After being reduced to 25 for two, the Lankans dealt a hefty counter blow that knocked the stuffing out of the Indians, for even Zaheer Khan who has made a name for his niggardly bowling at the death was toyed around with on his return. The third wicket partnership yielded a record 226 runs for the Sri Lankans.
After Jayawardena's departure Arnold played a sweet innings of 28 complied of just 21 deliveries to give the finishing touches.Although it is a very steep target it is not out of India's grasp as they have successfully chased steeper targets than this in the past, but it will have to be a special effort form the Indians.