Mendis, Muralitharan spin out India for 146(Lead)

August 18th, 2008 - 5:13 pm ICT by IANS  

By Rex Clementine
Dambulla, Aug 18 (IANS) India’s woes on their tour of Sri Lanka continued as they crashed to their third lowest total on the island when they were bowled out for 146 in the first of the five One-Day Internationals here Monday at the Rangiri Dambulla International Cricket Stadium. Their total is also their lowest against the home team in Sri Lanka and fourth overall.

The Dambulla wicket has the reputation of being slow and the average total here has been 224. Only one century has been scored here.

The Indian batsmen struggled after captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and they were reduced to 117 for nine at one stage, but a face-saving last wicket partnership of 28 runs between Pragyan Ojha and Munaf Patel helped them to get to 145.

The Indians were pushed on the back foot when opener Virender Sehwag was ruled out for the game with an ankle injury sustained while practicing Sunday.

Sehwag was one batsman who batted successfully against the Sri Lankans in the just concluded Test series and in his absence India’s under-19 captain Virat Kohli made his ODI debut.

Mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis and off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan once again caused the Indian downfall picking up three wickets each.

The tourists started off disastrously as Chaminda Vaas bowled Gautam Gambhir through the gate off the second ball of the innings.

Then Nuwan Kulasekara accounted for Kohli and Suresh Raina before the spinners came and ran through the Indian middle and lower order.

Mendis was introduced in the 20th over and there was plenty of action from the time he was brought on. He beat Yuvraj Singh off the very first ball, then a loud appeal for leg before wicket the next ball. The batsman then lofted the third ball for six showing his aggressive intent, but was bowled off the fourth delivery of the over, dragging it onto the stumps.

India lost four middle order batsmen for 14 runs as they slipped to 87 for seven from 73 for three.

Yuvraj, who was dropped on five by captain Mahela Jayawardene, went on to top score with 23 runs off 30 balls.

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