Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tendulkar Guides India To Comfortable Cuttack Victory

India 242-3 (Tendulkar 96no, Sehwag 46) beat Sri Lanka 239 (Tharanga 73, Jadeja 4-32) by seven wickets.

India moved into a 2-1 series lead over Sri Lanka after a majestic innings from Sachin Tendulkar steered them to a comfortable seven-wicket win in the third One-Day International in Cuttack.

Sri Lanka failed to capitalise on an excellent start as they were bowled out for 239 and Tendulkar was unbeaten on 96 as India reached their victory target in 42.4 overs.

Yuvraj Singh returned from injury as Sri Lanka won the toss and decided to bat first and belligerent innings of 73 from Upul Tharanga and 41 from Tillakaratne Dilshan appeared to be setting the stage for another score of at least 300, but India hit back, left-arm spinner Ravi Jadeja picking up figures of four for 32.

Dilshan's charge was ended when he edged a pull shot to be caught by Dinesh Karthik off Ashish Nehra and Sri Lanka paid the penalty for loading their side with bowlers as they collapsed from 165 for two to be all out in 44.2 overs.

Jadeja returned the best figures by an Indian spinner at the ground by dismissing Tharanga, who faced 81 balls, Chamara Kapugedera (15), Nuwan Kulasekara (10) and Ajantha Mendis (6).

Kumar Sangakkara made a stylish 46 but there was precious little from the rest of the batting as the Indians recovered from a poor start to take control of the game, Ishant Sharma and Ashish Nehra both returning two wickets.

Yuvraj, who missed the first two matches due to a hand injury, replaces Virat Kohli in the Indian line-up which shows two other changes from the last match in Nagpur.

Banned Mahendra Singh Dhoni is replaced behind the stumps by Karthik and as captain by Virender Sehwag while Praveen Kumar is left out in favour of Sharma.

Kulasekara returns for Sri Lanka at the expense of Suranga Lakmal while the absence of Angelo Mathews through injury means the tourists have opted to load their team with bowlers, Lasith Malinga returning.

Malinga was the last man to fall when he was bowled attempting an expansive drive off Nehra having made 13.

Sehwag then matched and surpassed Dilshan by smashing 46 in 28 balls to get India's run-chase off to an exciting start, the captain hitting nine fours before cutting Chanaka Welagedara into the hands of Dilshan, who clung on at the second attempt at gulley.

Tendulkar then added 72 with Gautam Gambhir, who made 32, for the second wicket as the runs continued to flow easily and it took a superb return catch by off-spinner Suraj Randiv to get rid of Gambhir and although Yuvraj Singh edged Welagedara to Sangakkara for 23, Tendulkar's progerss was unstoppable.

He unleashed a number of trademark cover drives and wristy flicks through the leg-side to assert his dominance on a flagging Sri Lankan attack and keep India in complete control.

Karthik hurried India towards victory with an unbeaten 36 in 32 balls, including the winning runs, a flick for four on the leg-side that beat Sangakkara that not only denied Sri Lanka the win, but also denied Tendulkar a century - for the first time in ODIs, he finished the match unbeaten in the 90s.

Welagedara was again the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers and he finished with two for 35 while Randiv's economical spell saw him finish with one for 33 but of concern to Sri Lanka was the lack of either control or penetration from Kulasekara, Malinga and Mendis, who between them conceded 169 runs in 26.4 overs for no wickets.

The fourth match of five is in Kolkata on 24th December.

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