Thushara and Mubarak take Sri Lanka to 227

August 29th, 2008 - 9:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Aug 29 (IANS) An unbroken 94-run partnership off 78 balls between Thilan Tushara (54) and Jehan Mubarak (47) helped Sri Lanka to a respectable 227 for six after yet another top-order collapse in the fifth and final One-Day International against India here at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. Thushara, who had done extremely well in the series as a lower order batsman, walked in with Sri Lanka reeling at 133 for six and with a 4-1 series defeat staring his side, he did his bit to give the Sri Lankans a competitive total. His maiden half-century that came in only 42 balls with six boundaries was the highlight of the Sri Lankan batting that has been under tremendous pressure during the ODI series.

Coming into the side only because of the injuries to Farveez Maharoof and Lasith Malinga, the 27-year-old grabbed the opportunity with both hands. He is not only the highest wicket-taker in the series, having accounted for ten wickets, but he also topped his side’s batting averages, his aggregate of 168 runs in four innings is only behind Mahela Jayawardene’s 185 in five innings.

The 94 run stand with Mubarak is also a record for the seventh wicket in ODIs at R. Premadasa Stadium, Mohammad Kaif and Anil Kumble recording the previous best.

Sri Lanka’s batting had struggled throughout the series and it continued to worry them. For once, Mahela Jayawardene had some luck with the toss, but despite playing seven specialist batsmen, they slumped to 133 for six.

Sanath Jayasuriya departed having made just one run when he slashed hard to third man off Zaheer Khan and then newcomers Mahela Udawattte and Malinda Warnapura added 77 runs for the second wicket before both fell in the space of four balls in Irfan Pathan’s second over. Warnapura (30) was caught at first slip while Udawatte was ruled leg before wicket (43).

Kumar Sangakkara struggled again and was dismissed for one run.

Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, coming in for off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, then dried up the runs when he bowled three maiden overs on the trot and accounted for Jayawardene (12). He also picked up Chamara Kapugedara for 26 and at 133 for six in the 27th over and it appeared Sri Lanka may be bowled out well within 50 overs. But Thushara and Mubarak revived their innings.

They scored a valuable 84 runs in the last ten overs as Thushara cut lose and got away with some streaky shots to crack 54 off 46 balls with seven fours.

Mubarak, getting a game in place of Tillekeratne Dilshan, remained unbeaten on 47 in 55 balls having hit three fours.

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