Sri Lanka crush India
by Rohit Sakunia

Ground:Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur
Scorecard:India v Sri Lanka
Player:KC Sangakkara, G Gambhir, ST Jayasuriya
Event:Sri Lanka in India 2009/10

DateLine: 9th December 2009


Sri Lanka beat India in all departments in the first of two T20 internationals at Nagpur. First, they batted well and posted a mammoth 215, courtesy some fine willow-work and also poor bowling and exceptionally bad fielding from India, and then they restricted the strong Indian batting line-up to 186, beating them by 29 runs, in the process also teaching them a few lessons in fielding.


The Lankans fielded like lions and almost everyone on the boundary took good catches, sending the Indians packing on a big ground. The new fielding coach for the Indian side will have his task cut out ahead of the second T20I in a couple of days at Mohali.


Chasing a mammoth target, the Indian openers started in their usual flamboyant style. Sehwag went on a rampage from the word go sending the first ball he faced racing to the fence straight down the ground. The mission was clear and the batsmen knew only one way, to crush everything that came their way.


Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir did just that as the total started to look achievable after three overs. Sehwag started to play the only way he knows and that disturbed the field placements almost after every delivery. Sometimes the third men was brought in and sometimes fine-leg was in the circle but the ball only continued to disappear, a six over point by the right-handed Sehwag would have surely send Sangakkara in some frenzy considering he would have remembered his bowlers ball hunt a few days back at Mumbai.


But like all good things, Sehwag's innings didn't last much. After scoring 26 off 14 deliveries, he was snapped by Kulasekara as he lobbed one straight to Matthews at deep-cover. Gambhir started from here and it seemed Sangakkara's knock will have an answer just 20 overs later. He matched the Lankan skipper in reaching a 21-ball fifty and made sure every bowler was punished in the process. Even the wily Lasith Malinga was taken for four boundaries in his opening over. But unlike Sangakkara Gambhir didn't last the distance and his wicket to Matthews spelled dooms for the home side.


A procession began as post Gambhir's departure, wickets tumbled. None of the batsmen had any interest in getting in and everybody started to go after the target right from the word go. First it was Dhoni who fell to his first aggressive shot after 11 deliveries. He could not clear deep mid-wicket and Jayasuriya from here on tightened the screws.


After Gambhir's wicket, five fell in 22 deliveries and those included stalwarts like Rohit Sharma who fell to a run-out, Yuvraj Singh was taken at long-on and Yusuf Pathan who was brilliantly caught by Lasith Malinga of Jayasuriya.


From here, only a Lankan win was possible and though the tail wagged, still 215 was way too much for them as Indians fell 29 short.


Earlier in the evening, Dhoni won the toss and without any hesitation opted to field first. India who have been weakened by the absence of Harbhajan Singh and S Sreesanth, gave Ashok Dinda the first taste of international cricket.


Sri Lanka on the other hand packed their side with all-rounders. They replaced Ajantha Mendis with debutant off-spinner Muthumudalige Pushpakumara and also brought in Dilhara Fernando for Chanaka Welegedera. Another new face, all-rounder Chinthaka Jayasinghe, featured in the XI.


The Sri Lankan openers to start of, were not allowed to get away with the bowling. The score read 14 after three overs but from here the duo of Sanath Jayasuriya and Tillekratne Dilshan took off. The next three overs went for 28 and the score read 42 after the powerplays. This is when the first wicket also fell. Second delivery of the seventh over spelled disaster for Jayasuriya. He top-edged a short and wide delivery from Dinda only to find Ishant Sharma at third man.


In walked the Lankan skipper and the next few overs declared what he was upto. It seemed Sangakkara was badly hurt by the way his side lost in the longer format and the vengeance spilled out. The first victim of the lion being Pragyan Ojha. The left-arm spinner was smashed for 17 runs in his first over of the game. From then on Lanka enjoyed a run feast courtesy their skipper. It's not always that somebody else takes the limelight when Dilshan is at the crease but today was Sanga's day and even Dilshan looked a feeble self.


Then it was Dinda who faced the fire. A supreme shot over mid-on to a length delivery from him was probably the shot of the day. Sangakkara shuffled like a dancer throughout the day and every time he did so, the result was a boundary. Such was the masterclass that he raised his 50 in just 21 deliveries and only one of these was a dot ball. The pitch also assisted him in his purpose as whenever he tried something out of the box, it came of pretty easily.


Though he played the protagonist, there was a good support from the other end all the time in the innings. The left-hander was very ably supported by Dilshan at the start, Chamara Kapugedera in the middle and Angelo Mathews at the very end. Both Kapugedera and Matthews were equally fluent with the willow and matched their skipper as the run-rate only went one way. Kapugedara was especially brutal on Ashish Nehra, whom he smacked for 18 runs in the 19th over.


India's poor fielding only added to the woes. Several catches were spilled and double that number of fielding lapses cost India dear. Yuvraj gave a reprieve to Jayasuriya when on 2, dropping a sitter at point off Ishant. Dilshan also was dropped, with Ishant missing an straightforward return chance. These chances where taken full advantage of as Jayasuriya went berserk in the fifth over, bowled by Nehra, taking 22 runs with five boundaries.


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