COLOMBO: Gautam Gambhir cracked a century and Suresh Raina smashed a brisk 65 not out to power India to a thrilling five-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the third one-day international in Colombo on Saturday.
Opener Gambhir hit an impressive 102 for his 11th one-day hundred and Raina hammered one six and six fours in his 45-ball knock as India achieved a stiff 287-run target with two balls to spare for a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.
India needed six runs to win in the last over, bowled by seamer Angelo Mathews, Irfan Pathan (34 not out) completing the victory with a boundary off the fourth delivery in the day-night match.
Man-of-the-match Raina and Pathan added 92 off 11.1 overs.
“Gautam did really well and we needed one of the top three to put in a performance like this,” said India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
“We all had belief in Raina.”
Gambhir boosted India's hopes as he added 105 for the second wicket with Virat Kohli (38) and 67 for the next with Dhoni (31) before being run out in the 39th over.
Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga bowled Dhoni and out-of-form Rohit Sharma off successive deliveries. Sharma has so far made just five runs in three matches.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Kumar Sangakkara (73), Mathews (71 not out) and skipper Mahela Jayawardene (65) earlier hit half-centuries to help Sri Lanka recover from a poor start.
Sri Lanka were struggling at 20-3 after electing to bat but Sangakkara, who suffered a finger injury during his knock, and Jayawardene steadied the innings with a 121-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Mathews and Jeevan Mendis (45 not out) then plundered 104 runs in the last 12 overs to help their side set a challenging target. Mathews cracked one six and five fours in a 57-ball knock, while Mendis hit one six and three fours.
Dinesh Chandimal kept wicket in the absence of Sangakkara, who was ruled out of the remaining two matches after being struck on the fingers by a delivery from Indian fast bowler Ashok Dinda.
“They are a quality team. I thought we played a good game but made a few mistakes,” said Jayawardene.
“We bowled poorly in the end.”
Indian paceman Zaheer Khan did the early damage when he removed openers Upul Tharanga (eight) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (four) in his opening three overs before seamer Pathan dismissed Chandimal for no score.
But Jayawardene and Sangakkara defied the Indian attack for more than 23 overs before leg-spinner Rahul Sharma broke the stand when he trapped the Sri Lankan captain leg-before.
Sangakkara, who scored a century in the opening match of the series, also put on 41 for the fifth wicket with Mathews before being caught by Kohli at point off Dinda in the 38th over.