Cricket: De Silva sparkles as Sri Lanka level series

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The Independent Online
India 228-6

Sri Lanka 229-5

Sri Lanka win by five wickets

Aravinda de Silva scored an unbeaten 82 off 91 balls as Sri Lanka tied their three-match one-day series against India in Margao yesterday.

India won the first match comfortably by seven wickets but the second match was abandoned as a draw after the under-prepared pitch was found unsafe for players.

Set a modest target of 229 to win in 50 overs, the world champions romped home with 10 deliveries to spare as De Silva shared half-century stands with three partners.

De Silva's superb knock, his 47th half-century in limited-overs internationals, helped Sri Lanka overcome the early loss of the opener Sanath Jayasuriya, who hit four boundaries in Debashish Mohanty's first over, but Mohanty, brought in for the all-rounder Hrishikesh Kanitkar, quickly gained revenge and dismissed Jayasuriya in his next over.

India decided to bat after winning the toss as a heavy dew on the ground delayed the start of the game by 30 minutes.

They failed to capitalise on half-centuries by the openers Saurav Ganguly and Ajay Jadeja and were restricted to 228 for 6 in their 50 overs.

Faced with some tight Sri Lankan bowling, India's middle-order collapsed after Ganguly and Jadeja put on 134 runs for the first wicket. Ganguly's 61 came off 91 balls and Jadeja's 53 off 111 balls.

The Indian captain, Sachin Tendulkar, promoted himself in the batting order but was out cheaply. He swept the off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan uppishly and was caught at square-leg fence by Sajeewa de Silva for six.

The innings lost further momentum after Mohammed Azharuddin (24) and Navjot Sidhu (17) were dismissed in quick succession. Muralitharan was the most successful Sri Lankan bowler, claiming 3 for 53.

The Sri Lankan batsmen found stroke play difficult on a slow wicket and lost Jayasuriya's fellow opener Marvan Atapattu, brought in for the spinner Upul Chandana, for 14 with the score on 51. But Roshan Mahanama (46), Arjuna Ranatunga (20) and Romesh Kaluwitharna (30) kept De Silva company to take their side to an easy victory.

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