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Gambhir hits career-best as India win easily again

Last updated on: February 05, 2009 22:58 IST

India created history on Thursday, recording their ninth one-day victory on the trot after thrashing Sri Lanka by 67 runs in an inconsequential fourth One-Day International in Colombo.

A career-best 150 by Gautam Gambhir paved the way as the tourists posted an imposing 332 for 5, after winning their fourth successive toss, and then dismissed Sri Lanka for 265 in 48 overs.

The victory, which gave India a 4-0 lead in the five-match series, however blemished Muttiah Muralitharan's feat of adding the tag of highest wicket-taker in one-day cricket to the one he already holds for Tests.

Despite being on the backfoot for a major part of the Indian innings, the spin legend had something to cheer about at the fag end of it when he broke Wasim Akram's world record for the highest one-day scalps. He dismissed Gambhir to take his one-day wickets tally to 503 in his 328th match.

Chasing India's huge total, Kumar Sangakkara played a defiant innings of 56 from one end but perished while attempting to step on the accelerator in the wake of the mounting required run-rate.

The Indian spinners, led by Pragyan Ojha, bowled in tandem and played an important role in keeping the Sri Lankan scoring rate quite low.

Paceman Irfan Pathan, playing his first match in the series, emerged the most successful bowler with three wickets while Virender Sehwag and Praveen Kumar took two wickets apiece.

The last match of the series will be played on Sunday at the Sinhalese Sports Club and the brief tour ends on February 10 with a Twenty20 match.

The visitors, who had already clinched the five-match series by taking an unassailable 3-0 lead, were hoisted by Gambhir and Dhoni's record 188-run second wicket partnership. The 27-year-old Gambhir notched his sixth ODI century and his third against Sri Lanka. He also became the highest individual scorer in a one-dayer in Sri Lanka, eclipsing the previous best of 145, jointly held by Sri Lanka's Aravinda de Silva and Zimbabwe's Andy Flower.

With Sachin Tendulkar rested, the Indians reverted to their regular opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Gambhir for the match but it failed to provide a flourishing start.

Sehwag, who had tormented the islanders with a blistering 116 in the previous game, perished early, the ageing Sanath Jayasuriya pulling off a spectacular catch in the cover region off Nuwan Kulasekara.

The dashing opener failed to keep the ball on the ground as he attempted to drive Kulasekara and could just score five runs.

Captain Dhoni promoted himself to the number three slot and along with Gambhir not only consolidated India's position but laid the foundation for an imposing total.

Gambhir and Dhoni did not take many risks in the initial stages of the innings but unleashed some exquisite shots on both sides of the wicket during their marathon partnership to put the hosts completely on the back foot.

Both the batsmen relied on quick running between the wickets for accumulating the runs though they were prompt to despatch the loose deliveries to the boundary.

Gambhir picked Angelo Mathews, who replaced mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis in the team, for special treatment, clobbering him for a mighty six to bring about his half century.

In the very next over, Dhoni lifted Muralitharan for a six to notch up his 27th one-day half century and steer the team past the 100-run mark in the 18th over.

The Sri Lankans were again very disappointing on the field today with some shoddy catching and ground fielding and erratic bowling, particularly in the early stages of the contest.

Dhoni and Gambhir tormented the islanders and took the score past 200 before a tired-looking Dhoni fell six runs short of a century.

The Indian captain went for an aerial shot and Dilhara Fernando grabbed a one-handed catch much to the delight of his teammates who were relieved to see the Indian captain back in the pavilion. His 96-ball 94 contained four boundaries and two sixes.

Dhoni's dismissal triggered off a mini-collapse as the visitors lost three wickets in the span of five runs to suddenly slump to 207 for four from a comfortable 202 for one.

Paceman Kulasekara accounted for Yuvraj Singh (5) and Yusuf Pathan (0) off successive deliveries to be on a hat-trick.

Yuvraj, who pulverised the Lankans with a scintillating 117 in the previous match, fell victim to a good yorker by Kulasekara as he missed the line completely to see his stumps being dislodged.

Yusuf Pathan, who came in to bat after Yuvraj was dismissed mainly to capitalise on the batting powerplay, was bowled in the very first ball he faced much to the delight of the crowd.

Suresh Raina and Gambhir stabilised the innings after slump as they slowed down the pace of scoring just a little to preserve their wicket.

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