A bits and pieces shredding
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When the third over of the day culminated, Mahela Jayawardene collected the dusty white cricket ball and sighed. Thirty-one runs had been scored so far, and Lasith Malinga — Lanka's premier fast man who was thrashed for 83 runs in the first one-dayer — continued to look a shadow of himself. How the Sri Lankan captain must have wished that Nuwan Kulasekara hadn't torn his groin for a catch that hadn't been given on Saturday.
At that point, Jayawardene had to choose between two options. One, continue bowling with Kulasekara's debutant replacement, the young and inexperienced Isuru Udana, or turn to his all-rounders. He chose to go with the double change of Thisara Perera and Angelo Mathews, and his bits and pieces men made the remainder of his choices extremely simple.
In the terribly breezy and swinging conditions present on Tuesday in the port city of Hambantota, the poor display of SL's fast men could not have come at a better time; in fact, in the scheme of things, it was the ultimate blessing in disguise. For once the non-threateningly paced Perera had his hands around the ball a lot earlier than he would have expected to, the hosts finally began treating the Indians as uninvited guests. Perera's movement dismissed the non-moving entities of Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina — the three toppers from Saturday — as his first three overs decapitated the Indian top-order.
From the other side, the powerfully built Mathews didn't bend his back, but rather gently released the ball into the turbulence and let the conditions do the rest — striking with middle-order gold in Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni.
By the time Mathews dismissed Pragyan Ojha, reducing India to 132 for nine, the Sri Lankan openers had begun preparing physically for their early stint in the middle. The preparations came in handy as Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga helped themselves to half-centuries as Lanka cantered to an easy nine-wicket win. The win, however, belonged almost solely to the expertise of two boys who have plied their trade together since their years in St Joseph's College, Colombo.
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