India beat Sri Lanka, take 4-0 lead (Lead)

February 6th, 2009 - 12:42 am ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Feb 5 (IANS) India inflicted a humiliating 67-run win on Sri Lanka in the fourth One-day International to make it 4-0 in the five-match series at the Premadasa Stadium here Thursday. The win soured Muttaih Muralitharan’s celebration of becoming the highest wicket taker in ODIs with 503, surpassing former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram’s 502.

Chasing a mammoth 333, Sri Lanka were all out for 265 in 48 overs after Kumar Sangakkara top scored with 56. For India, Irfan Pathan was the top wicket taker with 3-58 while Praveen Kumar and Virender Sehwag picked two wickets each.

After deciding to bat first, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (94) and Man of the Match Gautam Gambhir (150) butchered the Sri Lankan bowlers for India’s ninth consecutive ODI victory under Dhoni - one better than under captains Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid.

The target was always going to be tough for Sri Lankans to chase under lights.

Tillakaratne Dilshan (38) and Sanath Jayasuriya (27) gave the hosts a brilliant start. Fifty runs came in eight overs with Jayasuriya spanking Irfan for a huge six in the first ball. But the Indian bowler didn’t lose his confidence and picked up Jayasuriya in the third ball as Rohit Sharma took a smart catch at short cover. Dilshan also looked in fine touch but his 45-ball innings was cut short by Kumar caught by Yuvraj Singh at midwicket.

Sangakkara looked impressive and led the fightback with his 56 but didn’t get much support from the other end. Sri Lankan batsman paid heavily for careless hitting and failed to put up a descent partnership.

Earlier, Gambhir stroked his to way to 150 before becoming Muttiah Muralitharan’s record 503rd wicket as India posted 332 for five.

Dhoni, who promoted himself at No.3, scored a flamboyant 94 and Suresh Raina remained unbeaten on 49 to put India in a commanding position.

After opting to bat, India suffered a set-back in the third over when Jayasuriya pulled off a brilliant diving catch to dismiss Virender Sehwag (5) off Nuwan Kulasekara.

With the new ball doing a bit, Dhoni and Gambhir played cautiously and relied on the singles. Sri Lanka fielded poorly that let them down despite the good work done by Farveez Maharoof and Kulasekara in the opening overs.

Gambhir and Dhoni put pressure on the fielders with their ferocious running before stepping on the pedal in the 20th over. The duo added 188 runs for the second wicket to build a strong platform for an onslaught for the lower order batsmen.

Dhoni was unfortunate not to get his fifth ODI hundred when he played a loose stroke off Jayasuriya and was caught by Fernando. Dhoni failed to make the most of the reprieve he got in the same over.

In the very next over, Kulasekara struck twice in successive deliveries by removing Yuvraj (5) and Yusuf Pathan as India slumped to 4-207 from 2-202.

With wickets tumbling at the other end, Gambhir also started hitting ruthlessly with Raina as India scored 97 in the last 12 overs.

Muralitharan picked up Gambhir for his 503rd wicket as he surpassed former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram’s record of 502. The 36-year-old Muralitharan is also the highest wicket-taker in Tests with 769 wickets from 125 matches.

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