Brisbane, Feb 21: Sri Lanka eased to a 51-run victory over India to strengthen their chances of qualifying for the tri-series final here at the Gabba on Tuesday.
[Scorecard: India vs Sri Lanka, Feb 21, Brisbane]
Also read: When Sachin upheld the spirit of cricket at Gabba
For the second match in a row in Brisbane, India were in pursuit of a big target and yet again they fell short. This time they did not have captain MS Dhoni and they definitely missed the right-hander.
Chasing 290 for victory, India were bowled out for 238 in 45.1 overs. As the batting faltered again, Virat Kohli was the stand out performer for the reigning world champions with a knock of 66. Irfan Pathan staged a fightback towards the end, but it was too late as India had lost wickets early.
Pathan, with a valiant 34-ball 47, was the last man out as Sri Lanka emerged victors in the 46th over of India's chase.
Paceman Nuwan Kulasekara returned with figures of 3/40 in 9 overs. His efforts got him the Man-of-the-match award. Thisara Perera claimed four wickets for 37 in 7.1 overs. Lasith Malinga had two scalps to show.
As long as Kohli and Suresh Raina were at the crease, India's run chase was firmly on track. Kohli enjoyed two chances when Dinesh Chandimal dropped him twice but Sri Lankans finally succeeded as Kohli perished for 66, attempting a pull off Perera.
The innings was off to a disastrous start when Sehwag chased a wide delivery from Malinga and was caught at third man by Kulasekara for a duck in the second ball of the innings. Gautam Gambhir was also consumed by Kulasekara while the swing bowler added another big scalp in Sachin Tendulkar, forcing the master blaster to edge on to the stumps.
Farveez Maharoof got Raina for 32 while Perera did the damage removing the lower order batsmen in Parthiv Patel, Vinay Kumar and also Pathan.
Australia had handed India a 110-run defeat at the same venue on Sunday. Before these two losses, India were on top of the points table but now are at the bottom.
India did manage to deny Sri Lanka the bonus point. This win takes Sri Lanka to the second spot in the table with 11 points. Australia continue to top with 14. India are with 10 points from six games. Both Australia and Sri Lanka have played one game less than India.
India, now have two more matches in the tri-series before the top two face off in the best-of-three finals. India meet Australia in Sydney on Sunday, February 26 and face Sri Lanka again in Hobart on February 28.
On February 24, Australia and Sri Lanka come face to face and we might have a clear picture on that day as to which team will be the first to reach the final.
The finals start on March 4 in Brisbane followed by two more games in Adelaide (March 6 and March 8).
Sri Lanka Innings Report
India have yet another tough chase at the Gabba after Sri Lanka made 289/6 in 50 overs.
Lahiru Thirimanne and Tillakaratne Dilshan hit half centuries to help Sri Lanka to a good total in perfect batting conditions. Towards the end, it was Angelo Mathews (49 not out) who made quick runs.
India leaked 91 runs in the final 10 overs. In their previous outing against Australia, they conceded 101.
Irfan Pathan and Ravichandran Ashwin were the most successful bowlers for India with two wickets apiece.
India faltered in their previous chase of 289 against Australia at the same ground on Sunday. Without MS Dhoni, it will be interesting how India approach this big task. Stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag needs to fire today if India hope to successfully chase 290 under lights. It is not easy chasing under artificial lights as India found out the other night, being bowled out for 178.
Thirimanne scored his second ODI half century in his ninth game. His run-a-ball 62 was the top score for the team. He, along with Mathews were instrumental in accelerating towards the later stages of the innings after their openers had laid out a good platform.
Thirimanne, who was run out while backing up at the non-striker's end by Ashwin, benefited from the Indians as they decided to withdraw the appeal. As Ashwin entered his delivery stride to bowl, he found Thirimanne leaving the crease and broke the stumps and appealed.
However, umpire Paul Reiffel of Australia, first consulted his colleague Billy Bowden of New Zealand and they called skipper Sehwag to confirm whether they were appealing. Sachin Tendulkar also joined the conversation and it appeared that Tendulkar made Sehwag to withdraw the appeal. India's actions need to be commended but at the same time, according to the laws of the game, it was out. Whether you stick to the spirit of the game or laws, is debatable.
This incident happened in the 40th over of the innings. Thirimanne was on 44 at the time.
Here is what the Law says: "The bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to attempt to run out the non-striker. Whether the attempt is successful or not, the ball shall not count as one of the over. If the bowler fails in an attempt to run out the non-striker, the umpire shall call and signal Dead ball as soon possible."
As play continued, Thirimanne too carried on with his style of leaving his crease even before the bowler had delivered the ball. Finally it was Ashwin who got the wicket of the left-hander, caught brilliantly in the deep by Raina.
Earlier, India had applied the brakes on Sri Lankan scoring by taking three quick wickets as the Islanders were 192/3 in 38 overs.
Captain Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan got the team off to a good start but both departed in quick succession.
Both Jayawardene and Dilshan played fine strokes to take Sri Lanka to 53/0 in the first 10 overs. They continued to play well reaching 79/0 in 15 overs. However, it required a superb catch by India's stand-in captain Virender Sehwag to break the strong opening partnership. It was a 95-run first wicket association.
Sehwag flung to his left to pull off a stunning catch at short midwicket to dismiss Jayawardene (45) off Irfan Pathan. Soon, Dilshan followed his captain after completing his 26th ODI fifty. Dilshan, looking for a cut short, edged Ravichandran Ashwin's delivery to wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel. Dilshan scored 51 with five fours and one six.
Kumar Sangakkara was the next to fall as he pulled a short ball to Sachin Tendulkar at deep backward square leg off Umesh Yadav. Sangakkara made only eight runs.
Sri Lanka will bat first against India in the tri-series after captain Mahela Jayawardene won the toss here at the Gabba on Tuesday.
Virender Sehwag is India's captain today after MS Dhoni was banned for a "Minor Over Rate Offence." Rohit Sharma is out of the playing XI while Parthiv Patel will do duty behind the stumps.
Zaheer Khan is also out of the team and Ravichandran Ashwin returns. Sachin Tendulkar, who was hit on the helmet in the previous game and also had taken a blow on his shin, is fit to play.
There are three changes for India from the previous game. Dhoni, Zaheer and Rohit make way for Parthiv, Ashwin and Sehwag.
Sehwag said it is an honour to lead India. On Rohit, he said that the batsman had been "given a break."
Sri Lanka are unchanged from their bonus-point win against Australia.
India are currently placed second on the points table with 10 points while Sri Lanka are third with seven. Australia lead the table with 14 points.
India: Virender Sehwag (captain), Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Vinay Kumar, Parthiv Patel, Irfan Pathan.
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Angelo Mathews, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Farveez Maharoof, Rangana Herath, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekera.
Umpires: Billy Bowden (New Zealand) and Paul Reiffel (Australia)
Third Umpire: Steve Davis (Australia)
Match Referee: Chris Broad (England)