India crash to eight-wicket defeat against Sri Lanka (Lead)

August 18th, 2008 - 8:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Dambulla, Aug 18 (IANS) Indian batsmen failed to adjust to the low and slow turning wicket at the Dambulla Rangiri International Stadium and crashed to a eight-wicket defeat by Sri Lanka in the first of the five one-day internationals here Monday. The wicket here is known for producing low scores. Over the last eight years, in 23 ODIs, the venue has seen only four scores of over 250 and just one player has managed to score a century.

It was no different Monday as the trend continued as India were bundled out for a paltry 146 in 46 overs and the Sri Lankans reached the target losing only two wickets with more than 15 overs to spare.

India’s famous middle order that had failed to click through the Test series was replaced by youth, but it made little difference as the visitors struggled against deadly spin duo Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis.

The Indians suffered a major blow when in-form opener Virender Sehwag was ruled out with an ankle injury suffered while training Sunday and that allowed under-19 captain Virat Kohli to make his debut.

Chaminda Vaas struck early when he bowled Gautam Gambhir through the gate and then Nuwan Kulasekara removed Kohli and Suresh Raina to reduce India to 36 for three.

Something that Sri Lanka lacked throughout the Test series was the inability of their seam bowlers to provide early breakthrough, but they had done their bit this time around and eventually captain Mahela Jayawardene exposed the Indians to the spin 00of Muralitharan and Mendis.

Although Yuvraj Singh, who was dropped on five by Jayawardene at second slip, never looked comfortable against the seamers, he was fighting hard with a fourth-wicket stand of 37 runs before Mendis struck.

Coming to bowl the 20th over of the innings, Mendis had an incident-packed first over as he beat the left-hander off the very first ball and followed that up with a loud shout for leg before wicket. Yuvraj hoisted the third ball into the straight field for a six, but was foxed by the fourth delivery, a quicker one, and dragged the ball onto the stumps.

That triggered a middle order collapse as India lost four wickets for the addition of 14 runs. They never recovered from the slump and despite some resistance by the lower order they were bowled out for 146 — their third lowest total in Sri Lanka and the lowest against Sri Lanka at home.

In reply, Sri Lanka lost Sanath Jaysuriya early. The aggressive opener wasn’t going to mess around and stepped out to hoist Munaf Patel, but ended up hitting it too early and was caught by Irfan Pathan at mid-on.

Munaf also picked up a second wicket, when Sangakkara trying to work the ball on the leg-side offered a simple return catch.

Then Mahela Jayawardene and Chamara Kapugedara added an unbroken 102 runs for the third wicket to see Sri Lanka home. Jayawardene completed his 47th fifty with a single off Suresh Raina and was unbeaten on 61 at close while Kapugedara was on 45.

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