India v Sri Lanka: 2012 Asia Cup Live Score
Mahela Jayawardene’s visually pleasing half-century gave Sri Lanka the platform they needed to beat their previous highest successful chase against India, but his departure coupled with that of Dinesh Chandimal in quick succession threw the game wide open at the halfway stage. Though still in a good position, the manner of the dismissals wouldn’t have left the Sri Lankan camp too pleased.
Jayawardene’s innings was aggression mixed with serenity. He showed his class by his innovativeness, forcing MS Dhoni to constantly make field changes to plug the gaps during the first ten overs. That was a moral victory for Jayawardene, seeing his opposing number gesticulating to his fielders despite the cushion of 304 runs.
A full delivery on the pads by Irfan Pathan was clipped down to fine leg in the first over to get things going. Jayawardene later whipped the same bowler over the second tier at deep square leg. Jayawardene’s strength is knowing exactly where the fielders are stationed and that was best illustrated by successive boundaries off Praveen Kumar. With the fine leg up, he moved across and lapped a six just over fine leg and followed it up with an uppish late cut to third man.
Tillakaratne Dilshan’s pull to Virat Kohli at midwicket gave India only temporary relief as Kumar Sangakkara started pushing the ball into the gaps. He powered a half volley past mid-off to get his innings on track, before chipping down to loft Ravindra Jadeja over deep midwicket.
Dhoni counted on his spinners to check the scoring-rate but Jayawardene didn’t allow them to settle, getting to his fifty with a scoop over a narrow gap in the covers. Only a mistake from the batsman himself could have led to his downfall and that’s precisely what happened. When Pathan returned for a new spell, Jayawardene tried to disturb his rhythm by trying to dab one to third man. It resulted in a tame edge to Dhoni and the batsman’s frustration was palpable.
Chandimal, who survived a run-out appeal, went down the pitch to R Ashwin but was squared up by the carom ball. For then on, for Sri Lanka, much depended on Sangakkara’s reassuring presence as they looked to better the 302 they successfully chased in Nagpur in 2009.
50 overs India 304 for 3 (Gambhir 100, Kohli 108) v Sri Lanka
One was recently made the vice-captain, the other had the vice-captaincy taken away from him. Any simmering tension, fictional or not, was barely evident as the pair of Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir scored centuries and compiled a partnership of 205 to give their followers something to smile about after a dismal tour of Australia.
The pitch at the Shere Bangla Stadium felt like a home away from home as Kohli and Gambhir set about milking the bowling in a manner that was non-existent for most part in Australia. India managed only two 100-plus stands in the CB Series, that too in the same game, in Hobart. The common thread between the two games was Kohli. This innings wasn’t as manic, but the effect was still demoralising for Sri Lanka, who took control at the start of the innings but had to wait an eternity to strike again.
The pitch had a layer of grass, but was by no means pacy. The bounce wasn’t threatening either, but it needed concentration from the batsmen to watch out for the odd delivery that kept low or skidded towards the pads. The departure from Australian pitches to friendlier “home” conditions was evident by the way Gambhir dabbed and poked with regularity to third man. The same shot, which had him caught behind so often in Australia, fetched him several singles, thanks to the relatively lower bounce that suited his style.
The pace wasn’t electric, but steady. Gambhir and Kohli had to be watchful against packed off-side fields, typical of Mahela Jayawardene’s captaincy. Short cover and short point were placed to check the cover drive but in due course the pair managed to work their way around those fields, shuffling and nudging it to the on side to pick up the singles. The spinners, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Seekkuge Prasanna, bowled the odd delivery flat, trying to get the ball to skid through. The batsmen weren’t afraid to get on the back foot and work it away.
Gambhir’s stint wasn’t flawless though. He was dropped on 36 and survived a run-out opportunity on 94, Dinesh Chandimal the culprit on both occasions. Those lapses overshadowed a more committed display in the field at the start of the innings, when the run-rate was just over four an over.
Apart from the late cuts, Gambhir used his feet well against the spinners, lofting over extra cover and down to the straight boundary. Hitting in the air was a method the batsmen had to employ as several drives along the ground found the fielders. Kohli kept busy at the crease, rotating the strike to ensure India didn’t get bogged down against the spinners.
The period between the second and third Powerplays – overs 21 to 35 – produced 87 runs. Only five fours were struck in that period but the pair wore Sri Lanka down with singles – 53 of them – and six twos. Jayawardene went defensive, pushing the fielders back. Kohli ensured he punished the bad deliveries from the spinners and even produced a reverse sweep, which raced to third man.
Both batsmen reached their centuries in the 42nd over, and their contrasting celebrations were compelling to watch. Kohli jogged the single to long-off and controlled his emotions by merely gesturing to his team-mates with a big smile. Gambhir, however, didn’t restrain himself as he punched the air, removed his helmet and yelled out something to the dressing-room. His emotional reaction signaled the end of a long wait to reach three figures.
Both departed in the following over, holing out to the deep. The double-strike – in the 43rd over – didn’t give Sri Lanka much respite, as MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina plundered some wayward bowling at the death. The bowlers regularly dished out full tosses, which were clubbed down the ground and flicked off the pads.
Ironically, it was a full toss that yielded their first wicket, that of Sachin Tendulkar. His dismissal was partly due to smart captaincy by Jayawardene, who dropped the idea of a gully and stationed himself at short extra cover. Tendulkar pushed a full toss straight to him. Suranga Lakmal was lucky – the ball dipped just below waist height when Tendulkar played it – and the batsman stood his ground, seemingly asking the umpires to check if it was a legitimate delivery.
Sri Lanka weren’t so lucky as the innings progressed. But despite conceding 304, given their current form, the target shouldn’t be out of reach.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
- 2012 Asia Cup Live: India v Sri Lanka
- Asia Cup 2012 Live: India v Sri Lanka (indepthafrica.com)