Sri Lanka come out tops in tri-series

Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara hit impressive half-centuries to guide Sri Lanka to a four-wicket win over India in the triangular one-day series final on Wednesday.

Jayawardene top-scored with an unbeaten 71 and skipper Sangakkara made a brisk 55 as Sri Lanka passed India’s 245 with nine balls to spare in the day-night match.

The duo also upstaged India’s Suresh Raina, who cracked a gutsy 106 under pressure to prop up the innings.

“I always say we have got match-winners in the side and when it mattered today every one of them fired. It was a great start and all credit to the bowlers,” said Sangakkara, who was named man of the series.

India were a bowler short when paceman Ashish Nehra left the field with an injury soon after having opener Upul Tharanga caught by Virat Kohli at second slip with his third delivery.

Opener Tillakaratne Dilshan (49) and Sangakkara dominated the Indian attack with aggressive shots, adding 93 for the second wicket.

India’s spinners brought their side back into the game, removing well-set Dilshan, Sangakkara, Thilan Samaraweera (27) and Thilina Kandamby (18) to reduce Sri Lanka to 189-5.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh impressed the most with 2-41, while left-arm spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Yuvraj Singh bagged one wicket apiece.

But Jayawardene kept his cool to steer to his side home, ending the match with three successive fours off paceman Shanthakumaran Sreesanth.

India were earlier wobbling at 60-5 following incisive opening spells from pacemen Nuwan Kulasekara and Chanaka Welegedara, but Raina came to his team’s rescue with his third one-day hundred.

Man-of-the-match Kulasekara finished with 4-48 and left-arm seamer Welegedara grabbed 3-53.

“I am very happy because this is my first man-of-the-match award outside my country. They had a good batting line-up and we needed wickets early. I enjoyed Virender Sehwag’s wicket the most,” said Kulasekara.

Raina steadied the innings with a 106-run stand for the sixth wicket with Jadeja (38). He fell soon after completing his century, bowled by Welegedara after cracking one six and 10 fours in his 115-ball knock.

India were undone by a combination of poor shot selection and Sri Lanka’s disciplined pace bowling, losing wickets at regular intervals.

“I don’t think the shot selection was great. Thanks to Raina and Jadeja, we made it a contest. I think if we had not lost Nehra we would have made a better fight of it,” said India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Sehwag, who struck 42, kept playing shots despite the fall of wickets from the other end. His flourish did not last long though as he became Kulasekara’s third victim.

He was caught behind after hitting seven fours in his 27-ball cameo. He became the sixth Indian to complete 7 000 one-day runs after Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Mohammad Azharuddin and Yuvraj.

The Indian batting woes began with the match’s third delivery when Gautam Gambhir was bowled by Kulasekara.

Welegedara had in-form Kohli caught behind for two and then Yuvraj was caught at first slip by Samaraweera in successive overs to send India reeling at 16-3 in four overs. — AFP

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