India thrash Sri Lanka at Nagpur
Chasing 351 to win
, Sri Lanka started off poorly with Atapattu bowled by a Pathan inswinger. Sree Santh, on debut, managed to dig a few balls in short, but he lacked the consistency and the pace to trouble Jayasuriya and Sangakkara. Soon, Pathan and Agarkar joined the melee and the two batsmen tonked the bowling all over the place. Sri Lanka raced to 70 before the 7th over and there were obviously some worried faces in the Indian camp. Dravid then opted to get Harbhajan into the attack and went against the standard methods adopted by skippers in the past few months by not deploying his second set of fielding restrictions so that there was enough cushion on the boundary for the spinner. Harbhajan struck in his second ball, Jayasuriya patting the ball tamely to Dravid at short-cover. He then threw the ball to Sehwag, an unconventional move especially when he could call on Murali Kartik to partner Harbhajan.
Dravid seems to have some belief in Sehwag's bowling ability, as is apparent from him getting Sehwag to bowl the 2nd over against Australia
and relied on him quite a few times during the tri-series in Sri Lanka
. Admittedly, Sehwag never really did anything worthwhile on those instances. This time it was different though. He struck early, as Sangakkara attempted to ape Jayasuriya but found the wrong fielder and was out caught and bowled.
Dravid then tightened the screws and rightly enforced the fielding restrictions. Chandana had come in to replace Jayasuriya and he looked desperate to justify his promotion, surviving a close stumping decision which definitely looked out to me since I thought his foot was on the line. Murali Kartik came on after Sehwag bowled just one over. Jayawardene tried to get after him and succeeded a couple of times with boundaries, but just about barely. Harbhajan then had Chandana stumped when he went for glory yet again. Three balls later, Russel Arnold was beautifully deceived by Harbhajan. The previous two deliveries had turned and Harbhajan pushed the next one through to bowl the batsman. The score was 88/5 and unless Jayawardene managed a heist similar to the one he enacted at Dambulla
, Sri Lanka were unlikely to get close to victory.
Dilshan, who must be among the best
players of spin around, took on the bowling but Jayawardene played a stupid reverse sweep off Murali Kartik, who was bowling from over the wicket, and was bowled. In Kartik's next over, Dilshan was bowled by a lovely delivery which turned just enough to beat the bat but not the stumps. Kartik struck yet again in his next over when he had Maharoof stumped. The score was 126/8 and at this juncture, the foot came off the pedal.
Instead of bowling Sri Lanka out for something like 150, runs started coming freely. Kartik was especially to blame as he opted to let the lower order batsmen have some fun in the fond hope that they'd eventually get out. His 6 overs for 24 runs and three wickets ended up becoming 9 overs for 49 runs. Bizarre captaincy then followed as instead of bringing back Pathan, Dravid opted to give Sehwag and Agarkar a bowl. Sree Santh got his first one-day wicket when he yorked Lokuhettige. Two overs later, the game was over when he had Murali caught by Murali at mid-off. India had won by a whopping 152 runs.
Dravid's end-over blitz, as well as his shrewd moves, got him the man of the match award, although I suspect it would have really been tough to pick one of him, Tendulkar and Pathan for the award. The next game is at Mohali on Friday.