Cricket: India on top after Sri Lanka collapse

Sri Lanka lost their last eight wickets for 30 runs, to be dismissed for 201 off 48.5 overs in the final of the Tri-Nation Series at Queen's Park Oval on Thursday. A 122-run second-wicket partnership between Kumar Sangakkara (71) and Lahiru Thirimanne (46) had placed the Sri Lankans in an excellent position at 171 for two in the 38th over to launch a concerted assault in the final stages of the innings. However a succession of injudicious shots, coupled with the failure to appreciate the requirements of the situation, saw batsman after batsman gifting his wicket away while the Indians kept their cool.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the calmest of them all, marshalled his forces superbly on returning to the side while effecting three stumpings and playing his part in strangling the opposition when they would have been expected to be flourishing and racing towards a formidable total. Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja benefited most, claiming four of the last five wickets at a cost of 23 runs.

He, together with the other specialist spinner, Ravichandran Ashwin, were only brought on after the three frontline seamers and two part-timers -- Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina -- were given an opportunity to make the most of a pitch on which free scoring was challenging, although far from impossible. It was typical of the confident unorthodoxy of Dhoni, back at the helm after recovering from a hamstring injury that had appeared to rule him out of the rest of the tournament following the opening defeat to the West Indies in Jamaica. Ashwin was the only one of the seven bowlers used who completed a full 10-over allotment, taking the key wicket of Sangakkara along with Kusal Perera at a personal cost of 42 runs. Sangakkara's wicket was key to India wresting the initiative from their very familiar opponents for he played with assurance and excellent awareness until the urgency of the batting power-play triggered the risky stroke that brought about his demise to a good catch at mid-on by Vinay Kumar. Kumar's namesake, Bhubneshwar, made the early strikes for India on a bright, humid morning with the wickets of openers Upul Tharanga and Mahela Jayawardene, the former captain falling for 22 in his 400th one-day international.