|Player:||M Muralitharan, KC Sangakkara, PP Ojha, YK Pathan, Yuvraj Singh, V Sehwag|
|Event:||India in Sri Lanka 2008/09|
DateLine: 3rd February 2009
The Indian side under MS Dhoni won comprehensively the third match of the series to seal the series with two games to spare. Sri Lanka needed to win the match to keep the series alive but at the end of the day, they could not and lost for the second time a bilateral series to India in a space of six months. Muralidharan equalled Akram's record for the highest number of wickets in ODI career, but could not stop the Indian batsmen from amassing a huge total of 363 in their stipulated 50 overs, whereas Sri Lanka in reply could only manage 216.
Dhoni won the toss for the third time in the series and decided to bat first, and Tendulkar once again received a rough decision from the umpire as he was adjudged leg before to a ball sliding down the legs. Gambhir escaped a dropped chance and just when he looked like making the Lankans pay for their mistake, he was unfortunately run-out when he was backing up too far and when he left India were in some serious spot of bother. With the track being flat and a batting beauty, Yuvraj was promoted above Raina and what followed afterwords was absolute mayhem for the Lankan bowlers. After being reduced to 24 for 2, it was Yuvraj who cornered most of the strike, stroking some magnificent boundaries on either side of the wicket. Too often, the bowlers strayed on to the pads and he was more than happy to work them fine or swat them contemptuously over midwicket. Sehwag was a spectator in the early part of the partnership, but when the opportunity presented itself, he was no less ruthless. Kulasekara was taken for three successive fours, after which he enjoyed his first moment of good fortune. A slower ball struck Sehwag initially on the pad in front of middle stump, but the proximity of the bat to the pad and the subsequent contact fooled the umpire.
Sri Lankan bowlers and the fielders also contributed in making their life hell. Farveez Maharoof made tardy progress when Yuvraj miscued Ajantha Mendis over midwicket, and Dilhara Fernando then palmed a tough chance over the rope when Sehwag, then on 45, lifted the same bowler over wide long-on. Sanath Jayasuriya was the next culprit, grassing a routine caught-and-bowled chance with Sehwag on 72. It took Yuvraj only 82 balls to score his 11th one-day century. It took Sehwag seven deliveries less. By then, they were dismissing the bowling at will. The ball kept disappearing over the infield or into the gaps, and some appalling fielding, epitomised by Mendis letting one through his legs, didn't help. The duo had added 221 from just 27.5 overs and their dismissal brought some smile on the Lankan faces. Yuvraj finally departed after making 117 from 95 balls, and Sehwag left not long after, for 116 [90 balls] when Jayasuriya threw the stumps down from mid-off. Yusuf Pathan clouted three mighty sixes down the ground on his way to a 33-ball half-century, and though Mahendra Singh Dhoni was initially circumspect, the damage had already been done.
The pursuit of 364 had a dreadful start, with Sanath Jayasuriya chopping the first ball he faced on to the stumps. Praveen's relative lack of pace and the lack of width provided the breakthrough, and though Tillakaratne Dilshan got the scoreboard moving with a couple of streaky fours, the required rate always on the higher side. Dilshan provided some fireworks by pulling Praveen for one mighty six, but his attempt to cleave Zaheer over midwicket only resulted in the middle stump being pegged back. The captain and his deputy then rebuilt the innings, but India held their nerve to force the breakthroughs that took them a big stride closer to a series victory. After a brisk third-wicket partnership of 67 between Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, India tightened their grip, conceding only 26 in the batting Powerplay before adding the wickets of Thilina Kandamby and Chamara Kapugadera to that of Jayawardene.
Sangakkara's classy half-century gave them a smidgen of hope, but with the asking-rate having gone past eight an over, the situation was veering toward the hopeless. Sri Lanka took 39 from the bowling Powerplay. Jayawardene joined in, taking three fours off an Ishant Sharma over, and for a brief while, the voluble crowd had something to celebrate. But when Jayawardene miscued Praveen Kumar to Virender Sehwag at mid-off, the spell was broken, and Kandamby followed soon after, with an ill-judged reverse sweep. Dhoni had waited till the end of the fielding restrictions to introduce spin, and the gamble worked a treat. Pragyan Ojha, taken for two fours in his opening over, turned one right across Kapugadera's bat to hit middle stump. And with the ball gripping and turning, Ojha turned in his best one-day display. Farveez Maharoof was smartly caught at slip and Sangakkara's resistance ended with a miscue to short fine leg, before Murali under-edged one to Dhoni. A last-wicket partnership of 26 was merely academic and India with the run-out of Fernando sealed the series.
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