West Indies tri-series 2013: Match 3 – India vs Sri Lanka – Heroes and Flops
India’s match against Sri Lanka was their 42nd game against each other in the last 5 years; 60% more than any other contest between any two teams over that period. This statistic gives a good account of how familiar (and probably bored) the two teams must have become with other.
Both teams were desperate for a win after losing their opening games against West Indies. India brought in Murali Vijay to replace the injured MS Dhoni, and somewhat controversially played Shami Ahmed instead of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Sri Lanka made two changes as well, bringing Kusal Perera and Sachithra Senanayake in place of Jeevan Mendis and Ajantha Mendis.
Off late, the Indian team has managed to regularly defeat the Lankans, but yesterday’s game was dominated by the latter from start to end. Sri Lankan openers laid down the platform for a huge score, and the bowlers came good too, fending off the challenge from the out-of-sorts Indian batsmen rather comfortably to win the match by 161 runs.
India, on the other hand, missed their talismanic skipper Dhoni on the field. Stand-in skipper Virat Kohli looked out of sorts in trying to contain the onslaught by the Sri Lankan batsmen. After winning a good toss and electing to bowl, India saw their advantage fritter away due to poor bowling and fielding. It was a performance very unlike that with which they had won the Champions Trophy in a dominating and unbeaten campaign.
Selecting the Heroes and Flops of the match was a rather easy task:
Sri Lankan Openers: Upul Tharanga (174* off 159 balls) and Mahela Jayawardene (107 off 112 balls)
Upul Tharanga and Mahela Jayawardene were brilliant from the start. Both brought up well-deserved centuries and put on an opening stand of 213 at a good pace. Both made full use of the reprieves that they got due to a lacklustre fielding display from India which saw both batsmen being dropped off rather easy catches, and needless extra runs gifted.
Both the batsmen dominated the Indian bowlers with some clean hitting and excellent timing and placement. Jayawardene departed soon after bring up his century, but Tharanga carried on the good work and stayed at the crease for the full 50 overs. He raised the tempo after reaching his century, and started scoring boundaries at will.
Tharanga went on to score the second highest score for a Sri Lankan batsman in an ODI (highest being 189 by Sanath Jayasuriya, also against India). The opener increased his record tally of most 200+ opening stands to 7.
Captain Angelo Mathews (44* off 29 balls, 1-23)
Having plenty of doubters and critics of his captaincy, skipper Mathews couldn’t have asked for a better game. Probably the only blip he suffered was when he lost the toss. But he won’t be complaining about that either, as he’d have chosen to bowl as well and the story of the match could have been different then.
Promoting himself to come at the fall of the first wicket, Mathews batted aggressively to take advantage of an already demoralized Indian bowling and fielding unit. His quick-fire unbroken partnership of 135 runs off just 68 balls gave the Sri Lankans a total close to 350 to defend, a total that eventually proved to be too much for the Indian batsmen to chase.
But Mathews wasn’t finished after the Sri Lankan innings ended. He opened the bowling and took the crucial wicket of Virat Kohli. As the skipper, he marshalled his bowlers well, not letting any of the Indian batsmen to settle down. He also took a catch, and had a role in a run out, marking a perfect day at work for the Sri Lankan captain.
The Sri Lankan spin-twins: Rangana Herath (3-37) and Sachithra Senanayake (2-46)
The spinners ensured that the Indian chase of 349 was never on, and kept taking wickets without giving away too many runs.