Gambhir, Dhoni shine for India

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iol spt aug4 Gambhir REUTERS Gautam Gambhir, pictured, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit half-centuries to help India post a challenging 294-7 against Sri Lanka in the fifth and final ODI.

PALLEKELE, Sri Lanka – Gautam Gambhir and Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit half-centuries to help India post a challenging 294-7 against Sri Lanka in the fifth and final one-day international on Saturday.

Left-handed opener Gambhir cracked an impressive 88 and skipper Dhoni made a brisk 38-ball 58 after the tourists won the toss and elected to bat in the day-night match in Pallekele.

India, who have already gained an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the series, were under pressure at 87-3 but Gambhir and middle-order batsman Manoj Tiwary (65) propped up the innings with a 110-run stand for the fourth wicket.

Sri Lanka then got three quick wickets to reduce India to 213-6

before wicketkeeper-batsman Dhoni and Irfan Pathan (29 not out) added 77 for the seventh wicket to help their team set a stiff target.

Fast bowlers Lasith Malinga (3-64) and Nuwan Pradeep (2-63) were the main wicket-takers for Sri Lanka.

Malinga dismissed Tiwary and Suresh Raina off successive deliveries before taking his 200th wicket in one-day internationals when he had Dhoni caught behind. The Indian skipper smashed one six and eight fours.

Gambhir, who also completed 5,000 one-day runs during his 99-ball knock, was caught by Malinga at point off spinner Sachithra Senanayake after hitting seven fours.

Pradeep earlier bagged two of the first three wickets when he trapped Virat Kohli (23) leg-before and bowled out-of-form Rohit Sharma (four) in successive overs.

Sharma finished the series with just 13 runs in five matches.

India made one change from the side which won the last match by six wickets as they replaced unfit Virender Sehwag with opener Ajinkya Rahane.

Sri Lanka rested skipper Mahela Jayawardene and left-arm spinner Rangana Herath and brought in batsman Chamara Kapugedara and Senanayake. All-rounder Angelo Mathews led the side. – Sapa-AFP


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