Sri Lanka dump India in Asia Cup final (Lead)

July 7th, 2008 - 12:57 am ICT by IANS  

By K. Hussain
Karachi, July 6 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s young spinner Ajantha Mendis floored India to complement an electric knock by veteran Sanath Jayasuriya as the defending champions spanked India by 100 runs in a one-sided Asia Cup final at the National Stadium here Sunday. Jayasuriya, 39, kept Sri Lanka alive in the final with a breathtaking 125 and then Mendis undid the Indians with his slow-medium “carom ball” to finish with astonishing figures of 6-13, handing India a humiliating defeat to retain the crown.

The mighty Indian batting line crashed out for a 173 in 39.3 overs.

India, chasing 273 after deciding to bowl, seemed cruising to victory at 76-1 in nine overs, with Virender Sehwag (60 off 36) smashing bowlers all over, but the introduction of the 23-year-old Mendis worked like magic for Sri Lanka.

The rookie spinner took the prized scalp of Sehwag - India’s top scorer - in his very first over and then went on to completely wreck the Indian innings. He got the wickets of Suresh Raina (16), Yuvraj Singh (0), Rohit Sharma (3), Irfan Pathan (2) and R.P. Singh (0).

Experienced pacer Chaminda Vaas scalped Gautam Gambhir (6) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (49 off 74 balls) to complete the job.

Earlier, Jayasuriya did not look like he is one of the oldest pros in action on the world cricket stage after hitting a brutal 125.

Jayasuriya was not bothered by wickets that fell regularly around him as he plundered the Indian attack, scoring his 27th One-day International century in just 79 balls with the help of five grand sixes and nine boundaries. His heroic knock lifted Sri Lanka from a seemingly tough situation (66-4 in 12 overs) to 273 all out in 49.5 overs.

His rescue act came at a time when India pacer Ishant Sharma had brought the Sri Lankans to their knees with three wickets in quick succession.

But Ishant’s effort was later completely overshadowed by Jayasuriya who hammered his second century of the six-nation tournament to the delight of the Karachi crowd.

The high point of his innings came in the 16th over when he plundered R.P. Singh for 26 runs including two huge sixes.

Jayasuriya played the lead role in a vital fifth partnership of 131 off 141 balls with Tillakaratne Dilshan (56). It was after his fall in the 36th over that Sri Lanka’s hopes of posting a match-winning total faded.

Jayasuriya fell to Sehwag while trying a slog sweep but failed to get past Sharma at mid-wicket. His 125 came off 114 balls.

Dilshan joined him 16 runs later, trying to go for a big one off Irfan Pathan only to scoop the ball into the safe hands of Dhoni behind the wicket. Dilshan’s 56 came of 74 balls and included three hits to the fence.

Nuwan Kulasekera (29 not out) and Vaas (19) then ensured that their side remained alive in the final guiding them to 273 in 49.5 overs.

Earlier, Dhoni won the toss and opted for a run-chase on a batting wicket.

India got an early breakthrough when they sent back the dangerous Kumar Sangakkara in the second over with Raina running him out.

Skipper Mahela Jayawardene (11), Chamara Kapugedera (5) and Chamara Silva (0) fell to some incisive bowling by Ishant but Jayasuriya didn’t allow the batting to collapse completely.

Ishant (3-52) returned best figures of the innings. R.P. Singh also took three wickets for 67 in nine overs.

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