The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sell-out one-dayer a washout too
- Sanath (63 ..) only shining light in a pall of gloom

Calcutta: Filled up to its brim on Thursday, Eden Gardens was waiting for a Dada blitzkrieg to spill over to the stands.

What, however, they got instead was water spilling over the stands with an unseasonal rainfall abandoning the first India-Sri Lanka one-dayer for the Hero Honda Cup.

Only 18.2 overs were possible in which Sri Lanka reached 102 for three. Sanath Jayasuriya (63 not out) looked in great touch and Maravan Atapattu (five not out) had just come in at the crease when it started to rain heavily (at 3.59 pm).

For a moment, it seemed as if monsoon had arrived, never mind that it is still four months away. What a way to spoil a one-dayer that was being held in Calcutta for the first time in February.

Before the stoppage though, a rampaging Sri Lanka was going great guns after they were asked to field by Rahul Dravid, who had hoped to capitalise on the dew-factor during their chase in the second-half. Little did he know that it would hardly come into play.

This was the first time an ODI has been washed out at the Eden. Nevertheless, the capacity crowd was not totally disappointed. In the one hour 29 minutes of play that was possible, Sanath Jayasuriya hogged all the limelight.

Eclipsing his previous best (55 against Pakistan in the Independence Cup) here, Jayasuriya did not allow Indian bowlers to settle down, even as there was a silver lining from comeback man Munaf Patel.

It was vintage Jayasuriya on display. Taking a cue from partner Upul Tharanga’s start — 13 runs came in Zaheer Khan’s first over — he began with a two before lifting Munaf over mid-on for a boundary.

The lift was soon followed by some clean drives, pushes and flicks as a series of boundaries followed. Zaheer’s fourth over yielded nine runs, including two boundaries.

He was replaced by Sreesanth, but the firebrand seamer proved to be the costliest (4.2-0-36-1). Off the 13 boundaries Jayasuriya smashed, six were off Sreesanth — though vice-captain Kumar Sangakkara’s scalp would have restored some parity.

Munaf proved that he is not only “match fit”, but looked the only one capable of restricting the marauding Sri Lankans. Bowling at a stretch for seven overs, he was the best among the Indian attack (two for 25).

In fact, it was Munaf who brought down the run rate with his sole maiden over and the twin blows (Tharanga and captain Mahela Jayawardene). Harbhajan Singh was impressive in his two over spell, giving away seven runs.

India’s playing XI did not feature Anil Kumble — the most successful bowler here (14 wickets from six matches). In the absence of the injured Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik was roped in. Ajit Agarkar and Irfan Pathan, too, missed out due to niggles.

Sourav, meanwhile, entertained the crowd — if not with the bat — doing a Yuvraj Singh-Mohammed Kaif act in the point-short cover region. The Mexican wave may have been banned in Australia, but Sourav was enough to create a ripple in the overflowing stands. Local lad Manoj Tewari — 12th man — also provided some cheer when he substituted Munaf.

But that was before the skies opened up. Rain did stop, eventually, but left an overflowing ground.

A waving Sharad Pawar (BCCI president) and Rajeev Shukla (vice-president), though, provided some cheerjust before the first inspection at 6.45 pm. But the weather gods had other plans.

The “8.30 pm inspection” was just a formality, as by that time both teams had boarded their buses, knowing that the series had been reduced to a three-match one. Now it’s over to Rajkot on Sunday.

Perhaps, Jayasuriya would be the unhappiest among the lot.

Ironically, it was a “clear sky” in Pune — which lost the opportunity to host the one-dayer due to ‘internal problems’. The sun kept shining there.

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