Thilan Samaraweera smashed a career-best 105 not out to guide Sri Lanka to a five-wicket win over India in a triangular one-day series match on Tuesday.
He hit 11 fours in his 106-ball knock as Sri Lanka surpassed India’s 279-9 with 12 balls to spare in the day-night match for their second successive victory.
Samaraweera, who has played 57 Tests but only 29 one-dayers before this game, added 122 for the third wicket with Kumar Sangakkara (60) and an unbeaten 57 for the sixth with Thissara Perera, who hit a brisk 15-ball 36 not out.
“All credit to Samaraweera and Perera also played superbly,” said Sangakkara, the skipper.
“Chanaka Welegedara earlier did well to bring us back into the match. I think our fielding was much better. The attitude of the players was brilliant and we were out there to win,” he said.
Offspinner Harbhajan Singh kept up India’s hopes with three wickets, including that of Sangakkara, but Samaraweera and Perera held their nerve under pressure to steer their team home.
Harbhajan provided the crucial breakthrough when he had Sangakkara caught by Suresh Raina in the covers, but there was no stopping Samaraweera.
Sangakkara and Samaraweera built on the efforts of Upul Tharanga (30) and Lahiru Thirimanne (22) who gave their side a 48-run start.
Left-arm paceman Welegedara earlier helped Sri Lanka restrict India, despite a solid 74 from Yuvraj Singh. The Sri Lankan finished with 5-66, his maiden five-wicket haul in six one-day internationals.
“It was always going to be difficult to defend 280. We knew we had to pick early wickets, but after the first 10 overs there was nothing for the bowlers,” said India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
India, put in to bat, were struggling at 71-3 following a three-wicket burst from Welegedara before Yuvraj propped up the innings with a 99-run stand for the fourth wicket with Dhoni (37).
Welegedara removed Gautam Gambhir (8), Virat Kohli (9) and Virender Sehwag (47) in his first spell before accounting for Raina (35) and Zaheer Khan (2) in the second.
Sehwag smashed nine fours in his impressive 31-ball cameo before being caught at mid-off by Thirimanne off a leading edge.
Yuvraj reached his half-century in style, lofting Thilina Kandamby over long-on for a six. He fell in a bid to step up the run-rate, caught in the deep off paceman Perera.
Ravindra Jadeja (39) and Raina then helped India set a challenging target with a 65-run stand for the sixth wicket.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka have recalled former captain Mahela Jayawardene and two other players as injury cover, a senior team official said yesterday.
Mahela Udawatte and wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Chandimal were called up alongside Jayawardene and all three were expected to join the squad yesterday.
Jayawardene was not originally selected for the tournament after picking up an injury last month.
“He is now fit and ready to play,” manager Brendon Kuruppu said.
The call-ups follow injuries to Chamara Silva, who has been ruled out of the tournament with a broken thumb, as well as Tillakaratne Dilshan and Muthumudalige Pushpakumara.
Dilshan suffered a groin injury on Monday in the opening match of the tournament and missed the win over India.