There was a reason for the frown on the Indian coach, Gary Kirsten’s face. A day after team India annihilated New Zealand in the triseries to take the ICC ODI rankings top spot from South Africa, they are in danger of giving it back again in Colombo.
Sri Lanka raised a target of 308 at the Premadasa Stadium batting first and it will be India’s biggest test before the final of the Compaq Cup on Monday.
India, who bowled like tigers against New Zealand, rarely hit the right areas the second successive day and paid a rather heavy price. Sanath Jayasuriya led the front and left the latter part of the match to an equally dynamic Thilina Kandamby who took the match away from India.
The early onslaught from Tillkeratne Dilshan and Jayasuriya set the Indian bowlers back. The likes of Ashish Nehra who shone the previous day were crushed upon their attempts a second time. Sri Lanka did wobble a little losing Mahela Jayawardene, captain Kumar Sangakkara, but the old war horse held fort and for India, the hosts became impregnable.
India’s fielding suffered as did their bowling. Struggling to keep the Sri Lankans down, India’s bright hope came when Jayasuriya was dismissed lbw for ninety-eight and the next thirteen overs threatened to undo his good work. But Sri Lanka raised more than a hundred runs since his departure and that was in part thanks to the partnership between Kandamby and Kapugedera, the former getting into a dangerous zone of his own, slamming ninety-one runs in just seventy three balls as Sri Lanka were taking a heavy toll of the world’s new number one in an innings that nearly lasted an hour.