Tendulkar's comeback inspires India to big win over Sri Lanka
by AFP

Ground:Vidarbha Cricket Association Ground, Nagpur
Event:Sri Lanka in India 2005/06

DateLine: 25th October 2005


Sachin Tendulkar smashed 93 off 96 balls on his return from an elbow injury as India whipped Sri Lanka by 152 runs on Tuesday to take a 1-0 lead in the seven-match one-day series.


Irfan Pathan hit a career-best 83 and new captain Rahul Dravid stroked an unbeaten 85 off 63 balls to lift India to 350-6 from 50 overs in perfect batting conditions at the Vidarbha Cricket Association ground.


Sri Lanka managed only 198 in reply as off-spinner Harbhajan Singh grabbed three wickets in his first three overs and super-sub Murali Kartik polished off the tail with his left-arm spin.


Kumar Sangakkara's 43 was the top score for Sri Lanka, who were struggling at 126-8 before Chaminda Vaas (37 not out) and super-sub Dilhara Lokuhettige (29) delayed the inevitable.


Tendulkar, the world's most successful limited-overs batsman, showed no signs of the tennis elbow injury that kept him away from the game for six months as he plundered nine boundaries and two sixes.


The 32-year-old, playing his first international match since the April 17 one-dayer against Pakistan in New Delhi, did not look back after taking two consecutive boundaries in seamer Farveez Maharoof's opening over.


Tendulkar, whose much-awaited return was watched by a sell-out crowd of 40,000 home fans at the stadium and millions on television, took his world record tally to 13,735 runs from 349 matches.


Left-hander Pathan, promoted to number three, revelled in his new role as a pinch-hitter by blasting eight fours and four sixes during a second-wicket stand of 164 with Tendulkar.


The duo took the Sri Lankan attack apart in hot and humid conditions before both batsmen fell in successive overs trying to force the pace.


Pathan holed out to point off Tillakaratne Dilshan, while Tendulkar narrowly failed to increase his record haul of 38 one-day centuries when he edged Maharoof to wicket-keeper Sangakkara.


Dravid, who won the toss and elected to take first strike, hit eight fours and a six as India smashed 100 runs in the final 10 overs.


When Sri Lanka batted, Sanath Jayasuriya (27) and Sangakkara overcame the loss of captain Marvan Atapattu in the third over to add 64 for the second wicket by the 10th over.


But Dravid's bold gamble to bring on Harbhajan in the 11th over paid off as the off-spinner had Jayasuriya jabbing his second delivery to the captain in the covers.


Virender Sehwag, who made only 20 with the bat, struck with his third ball when Sangakkara lobbed back an easy return catch as Sri Lanka slipped to 76-3 by the 12th over.


Harbhajan then had Upul Chandana stumped and clean bowled Russel Arnold in the space of four deliveries to open up the Sri Lankan lower order.


The second match in the series will be played under lights in the northern town of Mohali on Friday.

(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)


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