India v Sri Lanka, 2nd ODI, Ahmedabad Mathews leads Sri Lanka to 274

Angelo Matthews’ unbeaten 92 off 101 formed the spine of Sri Lanka’s 274 for 8, as the surrounding batsmen lost their heads and their wickets on what appeared a friendly Motera track. India’s slow bowlers made regular incisions, largely through their unwavering discipline, sharing five wickets between them, while Umesh Yadav picked up two.

Shikhar Dhawan and Ambati Rayudu added 122 for the second wicket © BCCI

Shikhar Dhawan and Ambati Rayudu added 122 for the second wicket
© BCCI

The breakthroughs prevented a late-innings explosion from Mathews and Sri Lanka, but the visitors’ captain, with help from Kumar Sangakkara and Dhammika Prasad, has at least set his bowlers up with a credible target to bowl at.

Kusal Perera came into the XI to replace Upul Tharanga atop the innings, but there was no respite for Sri Lanka’s opening woes, as he played all around a straightening Umesh Yadav delivery to be out lbw for a five-ball duck. Tillakaratne Dilshan and Sangakkara have now become accustomed to coming together early in an ODI innings, but where they have forged long, steady stands to set Sri Lanka up in the past, both batsmen remained visibly out of touch in Motera, in the early overs.

Sangakkara pushed hard at the ball and struggled to hit gaps in the field, while the more ambitious Dilshan thrashed and missed as Yadav and Ishant Sharma delivered tight lines and tempting lengths.

Dilshan eventually cut loose in a flurry in the 10th over, carving R Ashwin over cover, cracking two fours down the ground, then sweeping him to the fence to complete a four-ball sequence of boundaries. But just as he seemed to have jolted himself back into touch, Dilshan played for turn that didn’t materialise, and Akshar Patel snuck a slider through bat and pad to rattle his stumps. Mahela Jayawardene fell soon after, striking a chip shot well enough for the deep midwicket fielder to intercept it, and Angelo Mathews joined Sangakkara; Sri Lanka once again at risk of drowning, with their two most reliable batsmen this year manning the lifeboat.

The 90-run stand with Sangakkara was steady, but unremarkable in style. Virat Kohli had expected the surface to offer significant turn, and had picked three frontline-spinners on that hunch, but it was the tighter, straighter deliveries that troubled Sri Lanka more, while the tossed up balls were milked for runs. Mathews employed the sweep to good effect, even venturing a slog-swept six off Ashwin in the 20th over, but both batsmen were largely content for the recovery to tick along. When Sangakkara reached his fifty off 73 deliveries, he had struck only three fours.

The Powerplay, taken in the 32nd over, brought the next innings stutter. Sangakkara took aim at a thigh-high Yadav full toss and hit it, where else, but down an outfielder’s throat, at long on this time. Seekkuge Prasanna’s innings glinted briefly as he attempted to electrify the innings, but was soon undone playing his favoured sweep. Mathews then ran Ashan Priyanjan out in the same over, searching for a second that did not really exist.

Sri Lanka continued to lose batsmen as they strove to attack, perhaps in the knowledge that Prasad at No. 10 was capable of helping Mathews see the innings out, but the setbacks muted the Sri Lanka captain. He seemed ready to unleash when he slammed Ravindra Jadeja for three consecutive legside fours, in an over that went for 20, but the back end of his innings was marked by restraint, even with a maiden ODI hundred on the cards.

In the end, Prasad contributed a canny 30 not out off 28 during a ninth-wicket stand worth 54, hitting out at balls in his zone, and rotating efficiently. Mathews hit the last ball of the innings for four to collect his second score in the 90s.

(Taken from ESPNcricinfo, by Andrew Fidel Fernando)