India fall 51 short of target set by Sri Lanka

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Brisbane: India fell 51 runs short chasing 290, losing wickets at inopportune moments, against Sri Lanka in the eighth match of the cricket tri-series here Tuesday.

India ended up scoring 238 in 45.1 overs in response to Sri Lanka’s 289 for six as the efforts of Virat Kohli (66) and Irfan Pathan (47) failed to get the team past the line. Though Thisara Perera bagged four wickets, Nuwan Kulasekara (3-40) was the most impressive of Sri Lanka’s bowlers after skipper Mahela Jayawardene (51) and Liharu Thiramanne (62) starred in an all-round batting display.

The second loss in a row has pushed India (10 points) to third place in the standings behind Sri Lanka (11) and leaders Australia (14). India lost both the matches at the Gabba, having been beaten by Australia Sunday.

The first of the Indian wickets that fell at regular intervals was that of stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag (0) in the second ball of the innings.

Predictably, he cut chasing a wide rising Lasith Malinga (2-55) delivery that flew straight to Kulasekara at third man.

Tendulkar (22), who has not been amongst the runs in the series, looked in good touch before Kulasekara made him attempt a half-hearted heave, getting him bowled off an inside edge.

Gautam Gambhir (29), Suresh Raina (32) were also dismissed after getting their eye in, leaving India at 146 for four in the 31st over, needing another 144 off 117 balls.

Kohli, who was dropped twice by Dinesh Chandimal, was eventually caught at mid-on as a quick one from Perera got big on him.

Pathan tried his best while batting with the tail. The left-hander looked well-balanced playing from the crease, smashing seven boundaries in a 37-ball cameo. He was the last man to get out with Perera taking a sharp reflex-action catch off his own bowling.

Earlier, Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan (45) set the tone for a big Sri Lanka total while Thirimanne (62) and Angelo Matthews (49 not out) in the middle-order provided a good finish to the innings. Irfan Pathan and Ravichandran Ashwin took two wickets each as India leaked 81 runs in the last eight overs.

Jayawardene and Dilshan made most of the good batting conditions at the Gabba, sharing 95-runs at the top of the order. It seemed Sri Lanka lost their way when they lost the openers and Kumar Sangakkara (8) in quick time to make it 124 for three but the young middle-order came to the party.

Besides Thirimanne and Mathews, in-form Dinesh Chandimal contributed 38 to the total.

While the southpaw scored at a run a ball, Mathews took India’s spinners and part-timers to the cleaners.

India, captained by Virender Sehwag in the absence of the suspended Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, tried eight bowlers, including Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli, who went for 24 in two overs.

Umesh Yadav proved expensive again with batsmen making full use of his extra pace. He conceded 58 runs in eight overs.