Honours even

Published : Dec 19, 2009 00:00 IST

Yuvraj Singh… a grand show in Mohali.-AP
Yuvraj Singh… a grand show in Mohali.-AP

Yuvraj Singh… a grand show in Mohali.-AP

Yuvi’s all-round performance and Sangakkara’s 37-ball 78 were the highlights of the Twenty20 matches. Sri Lanka won the first match in Nagpur with ease, while India managed to chase a big total in the second in Mohali. S. Dinakar reports.

Home boy Yuvraj Singh’s blitz in Mohali on his 28th birthday enabled India level the two-match Royal Stag Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka. Despite a 1-1 scoreline, there were clear indications that India has a lot of areas to work on before becoming a force again in this format.

The Indian fielding and catching were below international standards. The new fielding coach, Michael Young, has a demanding job ahead.

The Indian bowling was wayward for most part. The side conceded totals in excess of 200 in both the matches. The attack, lacking precision, was put to the sword.

The host might have been swept 2-0 by Sri Lanka but for some ordinary captaincy by Kumar Sangakkara in Mohali.

It was surprising that Sanath Jayasuriya, who had no fitness issues, did not send down a single over when Yuvraj was on the rampage.

Jayasuriya had been instrumental in Sri Lanka fighting back after Gautam Gambhir’s onslaught had left the visitor bleeding in Nagpur.

The wily left-arm spinner’s 4-0-19-2 of exemplary control had turned the contest on its head. Sri Lanka went on to win.

And Yuvraj Singh is more comfortable against pace, the medium-paced stuff from the likes of Weeraratne, Kulasekara and Mathews in particular, than canny spin.

Earlier in the match, Yuvraj himself had been the most successful of the Indian bowlers with three wickets with his left-arm spin.

Under the circumstances, Sangakkara blundered by not bringing on Jayasuriya. While the quicker Lasith Malinga and Dilhara Fernando held their own, the friendly medium pacers were consistently dismissed over the ropes.

But then, you cannot blame Yuvraj for Sangakkara’s omissions. His 25-ball unbeaten 60 (3x4, 5x6) was an awesome display of clean and effortless striking with a lovely swing of the willow.

Kulasekara and the hapless Weeraratne were put away ruthlessly in the arc between cover and mid-wicket to the delight of a near full house.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (46, 28b, 3x4, 2x6) too boomed with his big strokes while Virender Sehwag (64, 36b, 7x4, 3x6) inflicted considerable damage. His sixes over covers off Weeraratne and Mathews were awesome blows.

With efforts of this nature on a belter in Mohali, it was hardly surprising that India’s successful chase of 207 is the highest in Twenty20 cricket.

The Sri Lankans competed with India in shoddy fielding and catching. Sehwag, Yuvraj and Dhoni were all reprieved, run-out opportunities were squandered and there were a number of misfields.

Earlier in the match, the Indian fielding and catching disappointed. At least four catches were grassed as Sri Lanka made a daunting 206 for seven; but for Yuvraj’s strikes with the ball the total could have been around 230.

Skipper Sangakkara’s 31-ball 59 was an outstanding effort. He was picking the length early and was punishing with his response.

Sangakkara’s driving in the area between mid-off and cover point was brilliant. The left-hander is a quick-thinking quick-footed batsman who creates scoring opportunities.

Earlier, in the innings, Jayasuriya — creating room with short-arm pulls and jabs and bringing his powerful wrists into play for the whip on the leg-side — delighted during his cameo. Jayasinghe rode his luck for some useful runs, and Mathews delivered the big blows towards the end.

The batsmen were helped by some below par bowling, save Ishant Sharma in the first spell and Yuvraj in the middle of the innings. Yuvraj was rightly slower through the air.

Eventually, it was a good win for India considering that a slew of speculations and rumours were doing the rounds after paceman S. Sreesanth tested positive for swine flu.

In the first game at the impressive VCA stadium — it also has the finest press box in the country — in Nagpur, India lost the plot in the middle of the innings after opener Gautam Gambhir made a 26-ball 55 of lovely touch and placements. Key Indian batsmen perished to catches in the deep.

Jayasuriya’s left-arm spin and Mathews’ spell were influential. Slinger Malinga sent a compelling burst as well.

Earlier, Dhoni opted to chase but his counterpart Sangakkara’s 37-ball 78 (11x4, 2x6) seized the initiative for the Sri Lankans. The southpaw was brilliant through covers and some of his straight hits were breath-taking. He also harnessed the pace of the ball with much skill.

Sangakkara made his runs at a hectic pace but did so with correct and technically pure methods. Of course, he innovated by using his feet and the depth of the crease, but there was not even a hint of slogging.

There were useful efforts from openers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Jayasuriya — both were dropped by sloppy Indian fielders.

Chamara Kapugedara (47, 20b, 7x4, 1x6) struck the ball powerfully in the climactic stages. Sri Lanka soared over 200.

Then the Indian batsmen made a hash of things. Yuvraj, though, ended a four-match losing streak for India in Mohali.

THE SCORESFirst match — Nagpur

Sri Lanka: T. Dilshan b R. Sharma 34; S. Jayasuriya c I. Sharma b Dinda 26; K. Sangakkara (run out) 78; M. Jayawardene b Pathan 9; C. Kapugedera b Nehra 47; A. Mathews (not out) 15: Extras: (b1, lb3, w2) 6: Total (for five wkts in 20 overs) 215.

Fall of wickets: 1-43, 2-117, 3-126, 4-195, 5-215.

India bowling: Nehra 4-0-52-1, Ishant 4-0-22-0, Dinda 3-0-34-1, Pathan 4-0-54-1, Ojha 2-0-27-0, Rohit 3-0-22-1.

India: G. Gambhir b Mathews 55; V. Sehwag c Mathews b Kulasekara 26; M. Dhoni c Pushpakumara b Jayasuriya 9; Y. Singh c Kulasekara b Mathews 6; R. Sharma (run out) 3; S. Raina c Dilshan b Pushpakumara 21; Y. Pathan c Malinga b Jayasuriya 0; A. Dinda b Dilshan 19; A. Nehra (run out) 22; P. Ojha (not out) 10; I. Sharma (not out) 5; Extras: (b2, lb3, w5) 10; Total (for 9 wkts. in 20 overs) 186.

Fall of wickets: 1-32, 2-93, 3-99, 4-104, 5-105, 6-115, 7-129, 8-167, 9-173.

Sri Lanka bowling: Kulasekara 3-0-36-1, Fernando 3-0-26-0, Malinga 2-0-29-0, Mathews 4-0-30-2, Jayasuriya 4-0-19-2, Pushpakumara 3-0-27-1.

* * *THE SCORESSecond match — Mohali

Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan b Sharma 1; Sanath Jayasuriya lbw Pathan 31; Kumar Sangakkara c Nehra b Yuvraj 59; Chinthaka Jayasinghe c Jadeja b Yuvraj 38; Mahela Jayawardene c Tyagi b Sharma 12; Chamara Kapugedera c Karthik b Yuvraj 2; Kaushalya Weeraratne (run out) 3; Angelo Mathews (not out) 26; Nuwan Kulasekara (not out) 10; Extras (lb 7, w 17) 24; Total (for seven wkts. in 20 overs) 206.

Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-91, 3-121, 4-141, 5-155, 6-167, 7-167.

India bowling: Ashish Nehra 3-0-44-0, Ishant Sharma 4-0-42-2, Sudeep Tyagi 2-0-21-0, Yusuf Pathan 3-0-29-1, Suresh Raina 1-0-10-0, Ravindra Jadeja 4-0-30-0, Yuvraj Singh 3-0-23-3.

India: Gautam Gambhir (run out) 21; Virender Sehwag c Weeraratne b Malinga 64; Mahendra Singh Dhoni b Fernando 46; Yuvraj Singh (not out) 60; Suresh Raina (run out) 9; Dinesh Karthik (not out) 4; Extras (lb 2, w 5) 7; Total (for four wkts. in 19.1 overs) 211.

Fall of wickets: 1-58, 2-108, 3-188, 4-200.

Sri Lanka bowling: Kaushalya Weeraratne 3-0-43-0, Nuwan Kulasekara 4-0-50-0, Lasith Malinga 4-0-28-1, Dilhara Fernando 4-0-29-1, Angelo Mathews 3.1-0-49-0, Tillakaratne Dilshan 1-0-10-0.

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