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Sri Lanka mauled again

By Harish Kotian
Last updated on: October 28, 2005 21:10 IST
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If India's batting took the stuffing out the Sri Lankans in the first one-dayer at Nagpur, it was their bowling that took centrestage in an eight-wicket victory in the second one-day international at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium, in Mohali, on Friday.

Led by a superb performance from left-arm pacer Irfan Pathan, India shot out Sri Lanka for a paltry 122 and then raced to the target in just 20.3 overs, with Sachin Tendulkar leading the way with a 69-ball 70.

Pathan, who was later named man of the match, claimed four wickets for 37 runs as the visitors folded in 35.4 overs, on a pitch that offered some assistance to the seamers.

Only Kumara Sangakkara, who scored 27, crossed the 20-run mark.

Sri Lanka innings:

India captain Rahul Dravid won the toss and elected to field. The hosts retained the side that thrashed Sri Lanka by 152 runs in the first one-dayer at Nagpur. S Sreesanth was named as Super sub.

The visitors made one change, bringing in left-arm pacer Nuwan Zoysa for fast bowler Dilhara Fernando. Leg spinner Upal Chandana was named Super sub.

The match was the 350th one-day international for Sachin Tendulkar, who made a comeback after a six-month injury lay-off at Nagpur. He is the second most-capped one-day player after former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram, who played 356 ODIs.

India's decision to bowl was based on the recent record at Mohali, where teams batting second won all the matches in the Challenger Series, a domestic one-day tournament.

Also, the dew factor makes it very difficult for the bowlers in the second innings, giving a huge advantage to the team batting second.

Sri Lanka made a change in their batting order, with Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumara Sangakkara opening the innings, and Marvan Atapattu dropping down the order.

Irfan Pathan, hero of the first match, again did the trick as early as the first over, getting the dangerous Jayasuriya caught at third man boundary. The left-hander slashed hard at a wide delivery, but only straight to Virender Sehwag. (1-1, 1 over)

Atapattu, who came in at number 3, did not survive long, caught behind the wickets off Ajit Agarkar. He was beaten by an out-swinging delivery from Agarkar as he tried to drive on the off side. (13-2, 4)

The Sri Lankan captain's poor record in India continued. He has now scored 248 runs in 13 one-dayers in India, at 20.66, with a highest of 53. In just four overs, the visitors had lost two of their most experienced batsmen.

Further trouble followed when Mahela Jayawardene played a casual shot, offering a simple catch to Venugopal Rao on the leg side. The right-hander tried to flick Pathan off his pads, but ended up hitting the ball straight to the square leg fielder. (33-3, 6.5)

Sri Lanka were 44 for 3 after 10 overs, with Sangakkara and Russel Arnold looking to repair the damage.

With their bowlers on top, India opted to use the second Powerplay at the start of the 11th over.

The seamers continued to exploit the friendly conditions and Pathan was rewarded with the big wicket of the in-form Sangakkara, who was caught at mid-on, trying to pull a short delivery. (54-4, 12.2)

Pathan struck again with the next delivery, trapping Tillekeratne Dilshan plumb in front of the wickets. Dilshan, who just walked in to bat, was found short of footwork and beaten by an incoming delivery from the left-arm pacer. (54-5, 12.3)

The hat-trick delivery, however, was dispatched to the mid-wicket fence by Fervez Maharoof as Pathan again attempted the lethal in-swinger.

India could have be thinking about using their Supersub pacer Sree Santh, who could have exploited the helpful conditions, but they chose not to, since the Sri Lankans had already lost half of their batting and a fightback looked impossible at that stage.

Nevertheless, they still dominated the proceedings. Harbhajan Singh was rewarded for his tight line and length when he got Arnold caught at first slip by Rahul Dravid. The left-hander tried to play on the leg side against the spin, but only got the edge of the bat. (72-6, 18.3)

The Indian fielding was brilliant in the first match at Nagpur; at Mohali too the high standard was maintained. Agarkar's direct hit from the point region found non-striker Chaminda Vaas short of his ground, after the left-hander was sent back mid-way by his partner, Maharoof. (80-7, 20.5)

If the visitors were left shell-shocked by their wayward bowling in Nagpur, here it was the batting that was shred to pieces by a disciplined Indian bowling attack, which just concentrated on doing the basics right.

With just three wickets to go, Sri Lanka opted to use Super sub Upul Chanda after 21 overs; he replaced Dilhara Fernando.

Harbhajan nearly picked his second wicket, but Rao, at short leg, dropped a simple catch off Maharoof in the 25th over.

All-rounder Jai Prakash Yadav claimed the eighth wicket in the 32nd over, when Maharoof was caught by Yuvraj Singh at backward point. Maharoof, who made a painstaking 18 from 61 balls, finally ran out of patience as he tried to force the issue and played on the rise but failed to control the shot. (104-8, 31.4)

For the second time in the innings, wickets fell off successive balls, as Yadav trapped Zoysa leg before wicket off the first ball he faced. (104-9, 31.5)

 The innings came to an end when Muttiah Muralitharan was bowled, when he tried to cut Harbhajan against the spin. He tried to make some room to cut the ball, but failed to make contact. (122-10, 35.4)

After Pathan claimed the wicket of Jayasuriya it was a procession of Sri Lankan batsmen back to the pavilion. The only notable contribution came from Sangakkara; the others struggled against a determined Indian bowling attack that who never let off the pressure.

There were no meaningful partnerships, the highest being 24, between Maharoof and Chandana.

Pathan was India's best bowler, claiming 4 for 37 in eight overs. Yadav (2 for 32) and Harbhajan (2 for 19) also made vital contributions.

The total is Sri Lanka's lowest against India in India. In 1986-87 they were all out for 141 at Baroda.

Such was India's domination that they did not need to use Super sub Sreesanth, who could have been called in at some stage to take advantage of the helpful conditions.

India just need to play out the first few overs by the seamers, who can also expect some help from the pitch. There is some turn for the spinners, but the target of 123 is too little to bother the solid Indian batting line-up, which is high in confidence after the thumping win in Nagpur.

India innings:

A target of 123 was hardly a challenge for the explosive Indian opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar. While it was a good opportunity to spend time out in the middle and get some batting practice, the duo had other ideas as they set about the chase in a positive frame of mind.

Both batsmen attacked the bowlers and imposed their domination early on, as they did in the previous match.

Zoysa was carted for two boundaries and a six in his second over as India raced to 30 for no loss after four overs. Tendulkar then hammered Vaas for three consecutive boundaries in the next over to compound Sri Lanka's misery.

Sehwag got a reprieve in the sixth over, when Atapattu, in the covers, dropped a difficult chance off Zoysa as the batsman tried to blast through the off-side. With both batsmen of fire, India raced to 50 without loss in just six overs, resulting in the early introduction of Muralitharan.

The champion off-spinner was greeted with two consecutive boundaries from the blazing bat of Tendulkar. It was evident that the Indians wanted to register a huge moral-boosting victory and at the same time dent the confidence of the Lankan bowlers.

Sehwag fell after a quickfire 38, when he was caught and bowled by Ferveez Maharoof. The Indian opener hit five boundaries and a six in his 29-ball knock as the match looked set for an early finish. (80-1, 9.4 overs)

While the Indian seamers got a lot of assistance from the wicket, the Sri Lankan bowlers struggled against the Indian openers, who attacked them at will and never let them settle.

Tendulkar raced to his half-century, his 13th against Sri Lanka, in just 43 balls, including 10 boundaries. He reached the landmark with a forceful boundary past the bowler, to follow up on the attacking 93 he scored in the first ODI at Nagpur.

Yadav, who was sent to bat at no.3, could score only nine before being dismissed leg before wicket by Muralitharan. The all-rounder tried to sweep the Lankan off-spinner but failed to connect and was caught in front of the wickets. It was Muralitharan's 50th wicket against India in one-day internationals. (115-2, 16.5)

There was no further drama in the match as Tendulkar finished it in style, lofting Muralitharan straight over his head. He was unbeaten on 70 as India sealed an emphatic eight-wicket victory in the 21st over to go 2-0 ahead in the series.

Tendulkar's 69-ball knock contained 12 boundaries and never once did he look in trouble. He made batting look so easy, making one wonder what was Sri Lanka's problem when they batted.

While Sri Lanka have gone from bad to worse in the first two matches, India have gone from strength to strength and seem virtually unconquerable. It would now take a huge effort from the visitors to dismantle the in-form Indians.

The teams now head to Jaipur for the third ODI on October 31. If Sri Lanka lose in Jaipur, it could well be curtains for them in the series, for it will be virtually impossible to carve themselves back after such a hammering early on.

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Harish Kotian