x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Jayasuriya whets his appetite

India crash to a 139-run defeat to Sri Lanka as Sanath Jayasuriya returns to form with the bat for the hosts.

The 40-year-old Sanath Jayasuriya is still going strong for his age.
The 40-year-old Sanath Jayasuriya is still going strong for his age.

As last night's match between Sri Lanka and India meandered to a close, fans at Colombo's Premadasa Stadium held aloft a placard which read: "Tonight's special - Indians barbecued". It was an apt description of India's fate in the third match of the Compaq Cup triangular series. They crashed to a 139-run defeat, their worst against Sri Lanka, with veteran Sanath Jayasuriya (98) and youngster Angelo Mathews (6-20) feasting on their neighbours from across the Palk Strait.

Jayasuriya simply relishes the Indian bowling attack. He has scored more runs (2,812) and centuries (seven) against India than versus any other country. Even his last century in one-day internationals had come against them in January this year. Since then, he had been struggling for runs with a modest aggregate of 139 from eight games and a top score of 37. Critics were getting increasingly vocal about the 40-year-old's position in the Sri Lankan side. But he replied them in style.

Jayasuriya's knock and Thilina Kandamby's unbeaten 91 helped Sri Lanka post 307 for six and the score proved well beyond the Indians, who were bowled out for 168 in 37.2 overs. Faced with a run-chase of more than six an over, the Indians crumbled under the pressure. Only Rahul Dravid could make a worthwhile stand, scoring a laboured 47. Sachin Tendulkar came up with 27 and the highest partnership of the innings was 38, between Dravid and Yuvraj Singh (16).

Mathews just steamed through the middle-order with a six-wicket haul in six overs, including the prized scalps of Dravid, Suresh Raina for a duck, Mahendra Dhoni (eight) and Yusuf Pathan (one). The 22-year-old also chipped in with the bat, adding 70 runs for the fourth wicket with Jayasuriya after the big guns - Tillakratne Dilshan (23), Mahela Jayawardene (17) and Kumar Sangakkara (five) - had returned to the pavilion.

The attacking opener Jayasuriya got off to a typically blustery start as Sri Lanka posted 72 from the opening 10 overs. He was 42 then, but did not reach his 50 until the 20th over, starved of the strike as wickets fell regularly at the other end. Still, his 68th half-century, and first in nine matches, came in 45 deliveries. Exactly 10 overs later, Jayasuriya fell two agonising runs short of what could have been his 29th century in ODIs. He tried to work Ashish Nehra across the line and former teammate Kumara Dharmasena showed no hesitancy in raising his finger.

Jayasuriya was the fourth Sri Lankan wicket to fall, with the score at 172 for four. Thilina Kandamby continued from there and the 27-year-old made sure the good start was not wasted. Finding an able ally in Chamara Kapugedera (36), the duo added 83 runs for the sixth wicket from 92 balls. A late flurry by Kandamby brought 53 runs from the last five overs. arizvi@thenational.ae