Monday, February 9, 2009

India have failed complete a series whitewash against the Lankans as the visitors have lost the fifth and final One-dayer by 68 runs. Team India drop to third spot in the ODI rankings.

India’s record breaking sequence of nine consecutive ODI triumphs was brought to an end on Sunday (February by Sri Lanka who salvaged some pride with a consolation 68-run win in the fifth and final One-day cricket match of the series which has already been clinched by the visitors.

The defeat means that India could not make a clean sweep of the series and had to be content with a 4-1 victory margin.

Sri Lankan opener Tillakaratne Dilshan missed a ton by just three runs and Kumar Sangakkara’s hit 84 while spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan regained form just in time to avoid the series whitewash.

Half centuries by Yuvraj Singh (73), debutant Ravindra Jadeja (60 not out) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (53) could not be enough as Indian top order failed to click and the visitors were rolled over with seven balls to spare in chase of Sri Lanka’s challenging 320 for eight on a batting track.

The Indians went into the final match without key players like Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan and spinner Pragyan Ojha with the team management deciding to try out bench strength.

Yuvraj gave some stability to the run chase after his side was reduced to 85 for four inside the 15th over. India, however, struggled again after some time as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals on a day when nothing went right for them.

A cautious Dhoni and Jadeja only tried to delay the inevitable by putting on 55 runs off 66 balls for the seventh wicket.

Dhoni’s effort included two massive sixes and a hit to the fence. He reached his 50 with a towering six. Jadeja’s 77-ball knock was aided by four fours.

India round off the tour with a one-off Twenty20 international on February 10 before returning home next day.

The visitors got off to a shaky start with opener Virender Sehwag dismissed cheaply for six by Thilan Thushara on a poor shot after hitting the bowler for a four on the previous ball in the second over.

He was immediately followed by Suresh Raina, who was done in by an impeccable field placing by Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene in the third over and at that stage India were tottering at nine for two wickets in chase of a mammoth target.

The other opener Gautam Gambhir, who made 150 in the previous day-night affair, also buckled under pressure and was out for 13 off Nuwan Kulasekara, who got him caught by wicketkeeper Sangakkara in the ninth over. Rohit Sharma (15) then returned to pavilion in the 15th over.

India’s hopes suffered a further jolt when Muralitharan removed an in-form Yuvraj Singh. The offie caught the Punjab batsman, who adorned his 73-run knock with 11 boundaries and a six, off his own delivery.

Dhoni took charge of the proceedings for almost next 10 overs before he was sent packing by Sanath Jayasuriya.

For Sri Lanka, Dilshan (97) missed his century as Indian bowlers charged up only in the 42nd over to struck gold in the form of three crucial wickets. A blazing Sangakkara’s stint was also cut short on 84.

Sri Lanka were appearing to be doing everything right in their bid to salvage some pride as Jayawardene called the coin correctly and then veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya (37 off 35 balls) gave a superb start to his team.

It was great going for the hosts on a batting track till the 42nd over as they were 255 for two wickets with Dilshan and Sangakkara sharing the honours by stitching together a 143-run partnership for the second wicket.

But then Indian bowlers dismissed four Sri Lankan batsmen in the space of just two runs with Ishant triggering the collapse by bowling Thilina Kandamby (26) out on the second ball of the 42nd over.

Depleted bowling did India in: Dhoni

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni blamed lack of bowling resources for their defeat to Sri Lanka in the fifth and final cricket One-dayer, which halted their stupendous nine-match winning run.

India had rested its key players such as pacer Zaheer Khan, spinner Pragyan Ojha and batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar but Dhoni said it was crucial to try out youngsters with the series already in their pocket.

“Our bowling was not strong. But it was good to have a go at the guys who had not played. Ravindra Jadeja got a chance see what international cricket is all about and how tough it can be sometimes,” Dhoni said after 68-run loss which prevented them from making a clean-sweep of the series.

“Overall it was good, though we lost (today), we won the series,” he added.

The Indian captain dedicated the series win to his teammates, who, he says back each other and enjoy each others success.

“The overall team morale is good. It’s important to have good dressing room atmosphere and guys back each other and enjoy each other’s success.

“Whenever I needed them they were there, whether I needed a batsman or a bowler (to perform). So I dedicate this win to my teammates. Hopefully, we will continue to win more tournaments,” Dhoni said.

India 3rd at ranking

The loss in the final ODI has hurt India in the ICC rankings while South Africa maintain their lead at the top of the ODI rankings. It is Australia who have regained the second spot thanks to their win against the Kiwis in the 3rd ODI today.

But even though India lost the 5th ODI. It was a good day for Saurashtra all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja who made his debut for India. The stylish left-hander slammed his maiden ODI fifty on debut and held his own against the top class Lankan bowlers. The 20-year-old scored his runs almost at a good scoring rate without taking too many risks. Jadeja who also bowled 6 wicketless overs earlier smashed 5 boundaries in his innings and looks set for a longer stint with the national team.
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