India Upstaged, Sri Lanka Lift Tri-Nation Trophy
Indian top guns came a cropper when it mattered most as Sri Lanka spanked them by four wickets in a low-scoring final to lift the cricket tri-series in Mirpur on Wednesday night.
The summit clash demanded a special performance by the Indians who aspire to be the number one ODI team in the world but all they managed was 245 before folding in 48.2 overs, denying their bowling colleagues enough runs to defend.
Things could have been embarrassing for them but for the 106-run stand between Suresh Raina (106) and Ravindra Jadeja (38) and a characteristically brisk 27-ball 42 by Virender Sehwag upfront.
Chasing the target, Sri Lanka fumbled occasionally before eventually cruising to 249 for six in 48.3 overs. For them, Tillakaratne Dilshan (49) and Kumar Sangakkara (55) set the tone and Mahela Jayawardene (71 not out) completed the job.
Not that the Sri Lankan chase was a hiccup-free affair.
Ashish Nehra had the scoreless Upul Tharanga caught in the slip by Virat Kohli off his third delivery and Sri Lanka were yet to open their account at that stage.
Sangakkara is not new to such situation and the Lankan captain, in Dilshan's company, added 92 runs to put the chase back on track at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium.
Dhoni pressed in service Yuvraj Singh and then collaborated with him to remove the dangerous Dilshan off the left-arm spinner's first delivery.
Harbhajan Singh removed Sangakkara and Thilina Kandamby (18) and in between, Jadeja castled Thilan Samaraweera (27).
Already one bowler short as Nehra left the field with a groin injury, Dhoni cold only watch as the Lankans gradually overwhelmed the target.
Earlier, Suresh Raina's third ODI ton, product of his 115-ball stay that included 10 fours and a six, saved India blushes as the side recovered from 60 for five inside 11 overs to post 245 before losing all the wickets in the 49th over.
The left-hander shared a 106-run sixth wicket partnership with Ravindra Jadeja (38) to revive the innings.
Virender Sehwag chipped in with a brisk 27-ball 42 before falling to a soft dismissal.
For Sri Lanka, pacers Nuwan Kulasekara (4/48) and Chanaka Welegedara (3/53) wrecked the Indian order.
The Sri Lankan bowlers used the early life on the pitch with some swing and bounce but it was more due to the Indians rushing for shots in search for quick runs which led to their downfall.
It was a disastrous start for India which began with Dhoni losing the toss and continued with Gautam Gambhir (0) and in-form Virat Kohli (2) returning to the pavilion by the second over.
Gambhir completely missed a Kulasekara delivery which disturbed his leg stump after deflecting off his thigh pads.
In the next over, Kohli went for a slash off Welegedara, only to offer an easy catch to Kumar Sangakkara.
Sehwag seemed unperturbed as he punished Kulasekara for three fours in the third over but new man in Yuvraj Singh made a quiet exit without opening his account.
Yuvraj chased a Welegedara delivery for a cut without moving his feet and Thilan Samaraweera took a smart catch in the slips as India slumped to 16 for three.
Sehwag and Dhoni tried to revive the innings with a brief 32-ball 31 runs for the fourth wicket before the Indian captain nicked Kulasekara to Sangakkara in the ninth over.
Sehwag hit Welegedara for two fours to take India score to 58 for four after 10 overs before he went for an upper cut and the edge ended safely on Sangakkara's gloves.
Back against the wall, Raina and Jadeja played the balls on merit, scoring the occasional boundaries. But just when India looked like reaching a stage from where they could launch for a defendable total, Jadeja was out LBW to a Dilshan ball which straightened after pitching on the middle stump.
Raina played some delightful shots, including a six off off-spinner Suraj Randiv and raised his hundred with a two off Thissara Perera in the 44th over with the help of nine fours.
Raina did not get much support from the lower order batsmen, including Harbhajan Singh (11) and Zaheer Khan (16), both of whom can swing the bat to good effect. PTI