Adelaide: Needing four to win off the last ball, MS Dhoni's pick-up drive over the covers fetched India three runs that locked both India and Sri Lanka at 236 to end the fifth match of the CB series in a tie here on Tuesday.
It was the 26th tie in the history of one-day internationals and the first between India and Sri Lanka. Interestingly, the 30th over of the innings was called after just five balls had been bowled. Despite not winning the match, India went top of the table with 10 points from four matches. Australia are second with nine points from three matches and Sri Lanka third with two points from three matches.
India had it under control until Dhoni (58*) - playing his 200th ODI - sold top-scorer Gautam Gambhir (91) a dummy to deny him an ODI century for the second match in a row. India then slipped from 178 for 4 to 212 for 7, leaving Dhoni to do the finishing once again.
Smart captaincy by Mahela Jayawardene and some tight bowling by Lasith Malinga (2 for 53) and Thissara Perera (2 for 45) kept India in the hunt throughout after their batting once again disappointed.
Gambhir and Dhoni aside, India’s batting was decidedly ordinary. Sachin Tendulkar (15) was caught behind by wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara off Kulasekara, after which Virat Kohli (15) and Rohit Sharma (15) failed to capitalise. Kohli was trapped in front by Perera while Rohit fell to a direct hit by Jayawardene, which reduced India to 94 for 3. Suresh Raina (8) was the next man to depart at the score at 118. Gambhir crossed his 30th half-century during a 60-run stand with Dhoni, but his run-out in the 41st over started a slide.
Ravindra Jadeja lasted only 10 ball for his 3 and R Ashwin departed for 14, making it 212 for 7 in the 48th over. Irfan Pathan, who was included in place of Zaheer Khan, then brought the game in the balance with a six off a no-ball but sacrificed himself for the skipper after confusion while attempting a cheeky single.
Needing nine off the last over, Dhoni had Vinay Kumar for company but he became the third run-out of the Indian innings off the penultimate ball, leaving Dhoni to score four runs off the last ball with Yadav at the other end. Malinga bowled it wide and full but Dhoni was ready for it as he almost hit a boundary but for a splendid effort by the sweeper cover.
Earlier, Jayawardene won the toss and elected to take first strike on a batting track, leaving India to chase for fourth match in a row. India brought back Tendulkar and Irfan for Virender Sehwag and Zaheer, respectively while Sri Lanka also made two changes by bringing in Perera and Sachithra Senanayake.
India celebrated early as Vinay edged out a shoddy Upul Tharanga for a nought off the second ball of the day. Tillakaratne Dilshan (16) also couldn't find form as he became Irfan's victim.
Dinesh Chandimal brought positive intent to the crease which rubbed off to Sangakkara as the duo brought up a fifty stand. But just one run later, a rush of blood saw Sangakkara (31) gifting his wicket to Ashwin. Jayawardene joined forces with Chandimal, with both playing their strokes uninhibitedly to put India on the back foot.
Chandimal brought up his fifty in just 56 balls with Jayawardene scoring almost run a ball to keep Indian bowlers under the pump. Dhoni brought the series' top wicket-taker Vinay back who answered the skipper's call by getting rid of Jayawardene for 43. From a solid 173 for 3 in the 37th over, the Lankans slipped to 210 for 7, allowing India to put a lid on the score, which at one stage looked set to cross 270.
Chandimal (81) fell in the very next over to some sharp work by Rohit who combined with Dhoni to run him out. Perera (5) and Angelo Mathews (17) followed Chandimal back in the hut to leave the tail collect whatever runs they could in a last-gasp attempt.
Senanayake (22 of 14) hit three crisp fours and combined with Kulasekara (12) to take Sri Lanka to something they could bowl at. But in the end, it just proved one run short.