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Sri Lanka clinches consolation victory

TILLAKARATNE Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara both narrowly missed opportunities to score centuries yesterday as Sri Lanka denied India a series sweep with a 68-run victory in the fifth and final one-day international in Colombo.

The defeat halted India's run of nine straight wins in limited-overs internationals that began with a 5-0 rout of England at home and has lifted Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team to No. 2 behind South Africa in one-day rankings.

Dilshan made 97 off 117 balls while Sangakkara (84) scored his third successive half century of the series in Sri Lanka's formidable total of 320-8 in 50 overs ?? the home team's best batting effort in the series.

India lost wickets at regular intervals and never looked to threaten a strong Sri Lankan total before it was bowled out for 252 in 48.5 overs.

Yuvraj Singh gave a glimmer of hope with a robust 73 off 62 balls that contained 11 boundaries and a six while 20-year-old debutante Ravindra Jadeja remained unbeaten on 60 off 77 balls. Dhoni (53) shared the highest partnership of the innings - 55 off 66 balls - with Jadeja, who hit five boundaries.

Muttiah Muralitharan, who broke Wasim Akram's world record of 502 scalps in ODIs last Thursday, dried the runs down after Yuvraj's onslaught at Sri Lankan seamer Farveez Maharoof before he took a skier to dismiss the left-hander in the 22nd over. The off-spinner finished with 2-41 while unorthodox spinner Ajantha Mendis (2-44) also took two late wickets.

Nuwan Kulasekara struck twice while Thilan Thushara got the prized wicket of dangerman Virender Sehwag (6) cheaply as India was reduced to 52-3 in the ninth over.

Sangakkara took two sharp reflex catches behind the wickets off Kulasekara's medium pace which dismissed Suresh Raina without scoring and last match's century-maker Gautam Gambhir for 13. Kulasekara took three catches and finished with 2-42.

Sangakkara and Dilshan earlier combined in a 143-run stand off 136 deliveries after Mahela Jayawardene won his first toss of the series and elected to bat.


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