India began the new season by winning the Micromax cup 4-1 against Sri Lanka. In the last ODI played at the new stadium at Pallekele, India beat Sri Lanka by 20 runs to rise to number 2 in the ICC rankings. An all round show from Irfan Pathan took India home after Sri Lanka failed to chase down a mighty total of 294.
After winning the toss, MS Dhoni elected to bat and India amassed a total of 294/7 in their quota of 50 overs. Virender Sehwag sat out the game giving Ajinkya Rahane an opportunity to display his skills. His stay at the crease however, wasn’t long as he was sent back by Perrera for just 9. In came, the man in form, Virat Kohli but looked uncharacteristically out of sorts. He struggled to time the ball and looked far from being his usual flowing self. Gautam Gambhir, on the other hand, was at his supreme best. The left handed opener pulled and drove Malinga with ease and added 48 with Kohli before Kohli was trapped in front by Nuwan Pradeep.
Pradeep bowled with a lot of pace and swung the ball making it difficult for the Indian batsmen. He soon accounted for Rohit Sharma when the Mumbai batsman played all around a delivery. Rohit Sharma’s miserable time with the willow continued as he aggregated a total of 13 runs in the series, the lowest by a specialist India batsman in a five-match series.
Rohit’s departure gave Manoj Tiwary a deserving chance and the Bengal captain grabbed it with both hands to score a stroke full 65 and added 110 runs with Gautam Gambhir. Tiwary and Gambhir looked for the quick singles and dispatched the bad balls to the boundary never letting the run rate below 5 an over. Gambhir was his stroke full self and played a classy knock of 88 while Tiwary, though not stylish, played an effective hand. Both batsmen had Sri Lanka on the ropes and India looked good for a score of 300 plus.
The batting powerplay brought Sri Lanka back into the game. Lasith Malinga, altered his length and bounced out Tiwary and Raina in consecutive deliveries and Senanayake accounted for Gambhir. MS Dhoni and Irfan Pathan got into the repair work and the pair added a 77 runs of just 59 deliveries to get India to 294. MS Dhoni, struggling with a calf problem, unleashed his full repertoire to score 58 off 38 while Pathan remained unbeaten on 28.
The Sri Lankans, without Jayawardene and Sangakkara, needed Dilshan to fire. The experienced rght hander disappointed the fans and went back for a duck. Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan took it on themselves to wreck the Lankan top order while a sensational throw from Tiwary sent Mathews back.
Lahiru Thirimanne and Jeevan Mendis got into the mending job and kept India at bay to stitch a 102 run partnership. Both batsmen started off slowly but Thirimanne opened his shoulders and renewed Sri Lanka’s hopes. Jeevan Mendis also got to his maiden fifty while Thisira Perrera struck a few lusty blows to draw Sri Lanka closer.
MS Dhoni brought back Irfan Pathan and the left hander produced his magic as he accounted for both Perrera and Mendis. Malinga wielded his willow to send a few flutters through the Indian ranks but Dinda made sure that he didn’t do much damage.
The series win gives India the perfect start for the new season and with the rise of Irfan Pathan, India may well have sorted out their long standing issue of a genuine all rounder. India takes on Sri Lanka for a one off T20 on the 7th August at the same venue.