Irfan fans India firepower
Irfan Pathan’s second one-day international five-wicket haul aided India’s 20-run defeat of Sri Lanka in Pallekele, which earned the world champions a resounding 4-1 series win over their 2011 World Cup final opponents.
In the first series between the sides since India’s famous victory at Mumbai, the tourists took the spoils to rise to second in the ICC ODI rankings behind Australia.
Pathan’s 5-61 from 10 overs helped India to defend 294 for seven as Sri Lanka were dismissed with 4.2 overs unused.
The 27-year-old left-arm seamer snared the opening batsmen and vitally made Jeevan Mendis the second wicket of the 43rd over before completing a five-for in his next.
Mendis’ 72, on the back of 77 from Lahiru Thirimanne, had kept the hosts in contention but their tail then folded.
India’s total owed much to Gautam Gambhir’s 88 plus fifties from Manoj Tiwary and Mahendra Singh Dhoni - the latter’s landmark taking 34 balls.
Once Dhoni won the toss, Gambhir smoothly anchored the innings despite losing Ajinkya Rahane lbw to Thisara Perera and Virat Kohli in the same fashion for 23 to Nuwan Pradeep.
When Pradeep struck for the second time in two overs to bowl Rohit Sharma, whose five series innings yielded 13 runs, India were teetering at 87 for three after 17 overs.
Tiwary supported Gambhir in a restorative 110-run stand, which occupied 20 overs, until the former top-edged Lasith Malinga’s bouncer to short third man in the batting powerplay to depart for 65 from 68 deliveries.
Malinga had Suresh Raina caught at slip next ball, but Dhoni prevented a hat-trick.
Although Sachithra Senanayake had Gambhir held at point in the next over, Dhoni plundered eight fours and a six en route to 58 before being caught behind off Malinga, who ended with 3-64.
Dhoni had dominated an alliance of 77 in almost 10 overs with Irfan, who was unbeaten on 29.
Irfan continued to prosper by having Tillakaratne Dilshan held at third man for nought on his first over and Upul Tharanga likewise at extra-cover for a 21-ball 31.
Worse followed for the hosts when Dinda trapped Dinesh Chandimal in front with the first delivery after the mandatory powerplay, Tiwary ran out stand-in skipper Angelo Mathews from point and Zaheer Khan had Chamara Kapugedera lbw.
From 102 for five in the 16th set of six, Thirimanne and Mendis launched a 102-run recovery in little more than 20 overs before a mix-up saw the former run out at the start of the batting powerplay.
Irfan then had Perera held at deep point and Mendis caught behind, prior to bowling Senanayake with the last delivery of his allocation. The game was up in the next over when Malinga holed out off Dinda.
Sri Lanka, who were fined for a slow over-rate, can exact partial revenge on India in Tuesday’s one-off Twenty20 international at the same venue.