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Sri Lanka storm into second spot

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Lahiru Thirimanne

Lahiru Thirimanne helps Sri Lanka post an imposing total of 289 for six in Brisbane. The left-hander struck 62 from as many deliveries

Sri Lanka moved above India in the Commonwealth Bank Series table courtesy of a 51-run victory at Brisbane that owed much to solid contributions from throughout the side.

An opening stand of 95 between past and present captains Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene, who made 45 and 51 respectively, laid a solid platform for Sri Lanka after the latter had elected to bat first on a surface offering appreciable pace and bounce.

Lahiru Thirimanne, the top scorer with a run-a-ball 62, and Angelo Mathews, who struck four fours and a six en route to 49 not out from 37 balls, also made significant contributions to a total of 289 for six.

After slumping to 54 for three in reply, India, who were without suspended captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, struggled to keep up with the required run-rate and were dismissed for 238, despite 66 from Virat Kohli and a brisk 47 from Irfan Pathan.

Thisara Perera picked up three of the final four wickets to finish with 4-37 from 7.1 overs, and Nuwan Kulasekara chipped in with 3-40.

Dilshan and Jayawardene batted with great assurance this morning and were hardly troubled prior to the skipper’s departure in the 19th over. Stand-in India captain Virender Sehwag was responsible for his opposite number’s exit, the veteran leaping to his left at midwicket to take a sensational catch off Irfan.

India made a second breakthrough three overs later when Ravichandran Ashwin had Dilshan caught behind as the batsman looked to cut, and Kumar Sangakkara made just eight before pulling Umesh Yadav straight to deep backward square.

However, Dinesh Chandimal and Thirimanne shared 71 in less than 12 overs to lift Sri Lanka, the latter playing a series of enterprising strokes all around the wicket.

After Chandimal had been cleaned up by an Irfan yorker, Mathews provided further momentum and 81 runs were taken from the final eight overs, during which Thirimanne was caught at sweeper cover off Ashwin.

With his seamers proving expensive, Sehwag opted to call on Suresh Raina and Kohli to bowl the final two overs. Although Raina accounted for Perera, who was bowled by a quicker ball, the move did not pay off as a further 24 runs were added.

Sehwag then threw his wicket away in irresponsible fashion when he carved the second ball of India’s innings to third man.

Kulasekara took the catch and the seamer soon had further reason to celebrate when he bowled Sachin Tendulkar for 22, the Little Master playing on via a bottom edge as he looked to leave a length delivery outside off.

Gambhir became Kulasekara’s second victim when, after advancing down the track, he picked out Perera at gully with a careless stroke, but Kohli and Raina, who struck 32, took advantage of three dropped catches to keep India in the hunt with a 92-run alliance.

Once Kohli, twice put down by Chandimal at deep midwicket, holed out to long-on, however, the innings soon subsided and Irfan’s powerful late cameo, which featured seven fours, could not prevent Sri Lanka from coasting to victory.