India and Sri Lanka finished in a sensational tie in their triangular one-day international series at the Adelaide Oval yesterday.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni needed to hit four runs off the last ball bowled by Lasith Malinga, but he only managed to scamper through for three runs to level the scores.
Both teams finished with 236 for nine from their 50 overs in a dramatic finale after India had needed nine runs off the final over to win.
Dhoni, who steered India to a final-over victory against Australia at the same ground on Sunday, failed to replicate that success as Sri Lanka searched desperately for their first win of the series.
“I looked to stay until the end,” ice-cool Dhoni said. “If you have a decent partnership, you can stick it out. Malinga is very difficult to hit, so we were looking to target [Angelo] Mathews. [The last hit] was a bit difficult here, but in India that would have been two bounces and four. When you need 10 or 12 in the last over, your heart rate will always be up.”
The tie was tinged by controversy with India facing one less delivery than they should have, with the 30th over of their innings containing just five balls.
Dhoni was accepting of the mistake, saying: “There was a five ball over. In the past what we have seen is the third umpire interferes, and you have to come back and bowl that ball.”
“Usually, that is what has happened to us, it didn’t happen in this game — it’s fair enough, nothing much can be done now,” he said.
The tie lifted India to the top of the tournament standings ahead of Australia, with Sri Lanka yet to win in their three games.
Dhoni finished unbeaten on 58 off 69 balls, with one booming six and three fours, while opening batsman Gautam Gambhir was out in the 90s for a second consecutive innings after he was run out for 91 off 106 balls.
India looked poised to nudge past plucky Sri Lanka in the final over, but Ranganath Vinay Kumar was run out on the second-last ball by a direct throw as he tried to get Dhoni on strike.
Dhoni then faced a final ball tilt for a winning boundary, only for Sachithra Senanayake to cut off the shot and enable India to take three runs and level the scores.
It was the first-ever tie between India and Sri Lanka in one-day internationals and the 26th in history.
Once again, star India batsman Sachin Tendulkar failed to score his 100th international century after he was dismissed for 15.
Earlier, Dinesh Chandimal top-scored with 81 as Sri Lanka reached 236 for nine off 50 overs.
Chandimal, 22, hit six fours and a six off 91 balls, before he was run out and Sri Lanka, who won the toss, set India just over 4.7 runs an over to win.
Kumar Sangakkara scored just 31 off 56 balls with two fours, before he was caught off a leading edge at mid-on off spinner Ravi Ashwin in the 20th over.
Jayawardene hit 43 off 49 balls and put on 94 for the fourth wicket with Chandimal, before he was trapped leg before wicket by Vinay Kumar in the 37th over.
Chandimal was out in the next over when batting partner Angelo Mathews went for a quick single to short-cover, only for Rohit Sharma to whip the ball back to wicketkeeper Dhoni to break the stumps.
Senanayake cracked 22 off 14 balls to remain unbeaten, with Mathews (17) and Thisara Perera (5) out cheaply. Vinay Kumar finished the best of India’s bowlers with 3-46 off 10 overs.