India overwhelms Lanka despite gallant rearguard effort
- Fifth and final ODI at Pallekele, Kandy
A gallant fightback by Sri Lanka was not enough to prevent them from crashing to a 20 run defeat in the 5th and final ODI played at the Pallekele Stadium in Kandy.
A fighting sixth wicket stand of 102 between opener Lahiru Thirimanne (77) and all rounder Jevan Mendis (72) and another aggressive innings from Thisara Perera had lifted Sri Lanka towards what would have been a remarkable win when the wheels fell off amidst some tight bowling and fielding from the visitors.
The win gave India a 4-1 triumph in the series and enabled them to leapfrog to the second place in the ICC international ODI rankings. The result was fully deserved as except for an unusual aberration in the second game, India comprehensively outplayed their opponents throughout the series.
Although the game was effectively a dead rubber with the series already decided in the previous game, the final match in the series still had some attraction for both teams. India needed to win 4-1 to emphasis their dominance in the series and register a rare hat trick of wins over Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka on the other hand needs to salvage some pride and prove the team has the resolve and character to bounce back to winning ways. The series is already lost but a 3-2 tally at the end would be easier to stomach.
Earlier after electing to bat first, India were once again anchored by a superb innings from Gautam Gambhir (88) and then skipper Dhoni (58) and Manoj Tiwary (65) increased the tempo in the last ten overs to take their side to an imposing 294 for 7.
Lasith Malinga was the host’s most successful bowler with 3 for 64 – his third wicket taking him to the milestone of 200 ODI wickets.
India’s total was made to look even more daunting when the hosts – missing their two most experienced campaigners Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena – slid to a dismal 102 for 5 in 15.1 overs.
Lahiru Thirimanne and Jeevan Mendis then kept the Sri Lankan flag flying with an enterprising stand of 102 in 20 overs before Thirimanne was run out for 77.
Mendis and Thisara Perera (18) added 48 at a little over a run a ball before the latter was dismissed caught by Kohli off Pathan to leave the hosts on 252 for 7.
With 43 needed off 46 balls and Mendis still at the wicket, the Sri Lankans were still in with a fighting chance but four runs later they lost the key wicket of Mendis who edged Pathan to Dhoni to end a tenacious innings of 72.
With Mendis’ dismissal the fighting spirit of the Sri Lankans evaporated and Senanayake and Malinga were only able to reduce the margin of defeat to 20 runs.
Pathan had a match to remember with five wickets for 61 runs to add to his 29 not out off 28 balls in the Indian innings.
The two sides will now meet each other in a one-off T20 international on Tuesday 7th August at the same venue.