Sri Lanka's batsmen capped off an impressive bowling performance to record an emphatic eight-wicket win over India in the fifth one-day international of the triangular series at Dambulla. Chasing a mere 104 for victory after Thisara Perera's career-best figures of five for 28 had brought about an Indian batting collapse, the hosts were able to reach the target in a little more than 15 overs without much trouble thanks to some explosive hitting from the openers Tillakaratne Dilshan (35) and Mahela Jayawardene (33). With Sri Lanka now through to the final, India and New Zealand are scheduled to play a knockout game on Wednesday to decide who will face them. Dilshan and Jayawardene started the run chase in boisterous fashion, carting the Indian bowlers for boundaries all around the park, and reached the 50-mark in just six overs.
The duo's 79-run stand finally came to an end in a double blow, with Dilshan caught at mid-off for 35 when attempting an ambitious slog off Ishant Sharma, while Jayawardene ? who smashed six boundaries for his 33 off 35 balls ? was well caught at midwicket by Ravindra Jadeja in the very next delivery. However, skipper Kumar Sangakkara (13 not out) and Upul Tharanga (12 not out) were able to see the hosts through to the end ? the former finishing things off with a sublime cover-driven boundary. Earlier in the day Sri Lankan medium-pacer Nuwan Kulasekara dealt India two early blows, trapping Virender Sehwag leg-before for a run-a-ball 12 and then inducing an edge behind from Dinesh Karthik (nine).
Yuvraj Singh ? back in the side after a bout of dengue fever ? attempted to take charge of proceedings, smashing Kulasekara for two boundaries to signal his intentions, but at the other end Rohit Sharma misjudged an inswinger from Angelo Mathews, a plum lbw decision ending his 11-run innings. Things went completely downhill for India after that. Suresh Raina (eight) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (10) departed within four overs of each other, both caught behind off Perera. The medium-pacer snapped up two more wickets in the 25th over, Jadeja (nought) and Praveen Kumar falling in consecutive deliveries ? caught at gully and mid-off respectively. Lasith Malinga then picked up a brace ? Ashish Nehra (two) and Yuvraj his victims ? while Perera's fifth wicket came in the form of Sharma, bowled for three.
* Press Association