Thu, Feb 05, 2009 - Page 20 News List

India clinch Sri Lanka series with 147-run win

AFP , COLOMBO

Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan equaled the one-day bowling record before India clinched the series with a crushing 147-run victory in the third match on Tuesday.

The tourists posted a challenging 363-5 following rapidfire centuries from Yuvraj Singh (117) and Virender Sehwag (116) and then dismissed the hosts for 216 for an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.

It was India’s second successive one-day series triumph in Sri Lanka, having won 3-2 on their last tour in August last year.

Sri Lanka never looked like achieving a stiff target under lights despite a fighting 83 from wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar San­gak­kara and cameos from Tillakaratne Dilshan (31) and skipper Mahela Jayawardene (30).

India are now one short of improving upon their own record of eight successive one-day victories, having already beaten England 5-0 at home last year.

“We are not really looking at the record,” India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said. “The important thing is the team is doing well. We are looking to give chances to players who have not played in the series so far. That’s the priority.”

The hosts suffered a setback in the second over when hard-­hitting opener Sanath Jayasuriya was bowled for no score, chopping paceman Praveen Kumar’s delivery on to his stumps.

Sangakkara hardly received support from the other end as Kumar (2-41) and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha struck just when the hosts looked like building a partnership. Ojha finished with 4-38, his best in eight one-dayers.

Sangakkara was the seventh batsman out after hitting nine fours in his 82-ball knock.

“It was a disappointing day for us as we came with a lot of hope,” Jayawardene said. “Yuvraj and Sehwag batted really well. Their partnership took the game away from us. They played some good shots and put our bowlers under pressure.”

The afternoon session belonged to Yuvraj and Sehwag, who added 221 runs — India’s highest stand for the third wicket against Sri Lanka. The previous best was 175 between Navjot Sidhu and Mohammad Azharuddin in Sharjah in 1995.

Muralitharan equalled former Pakistani paceman Wasim Akram’s one-day record of 502 wickets in his 327th match when he had Yuvraj caught by Chamara Kapugedera at point in his eighth over.

But the Sri Lankan, the world’s leading bowler in Tests with 769 victims, failed to grab the record-breaking wicket in his last two overs and will look to reach the milestone in the fourth one-dayer today.

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