Nagpur:Tillakaratne Dilshan struck a blistering 123 as Sri Lanka held their nerves in the tense dying moments to snatch a three-wicket victory in a high scoring second One-Day International against India to level the five-match series 1-1 on Friday.
Chasing India's 301 for 7 built around a captain's knock of 107 by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the visitors made up for their narrow defeat at Rajkot by overhauling the target with five balls to spare in a pulsating floodlit contest.
The explosive Dilshan notched up his second consecutive and fourth one-day hundred to lay the platform for the run chase for Sri Lanka.
India did well to recover from a rather sluggish start to post 301 mainly relying on Dhoni's fireworks in the end but a few fielding lapses in the very fag end in the Sri Lankan innings tilted the scale in the visitors' favour in a match which went down the wire.
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The capacity crowd at VCA Statium in Jamtha were treated to another run feast with both teams scoring over 300 runs but unlike the Rajkot feast the bowlers did get some assistance from the track.
The Indians, whose fielding has left a lot to be desired in the ongoing series against Sri Lanka, were patchy in their bowling and the early dismissals of Virender Sehwag (4) and Gautam Gambhir (2) when they batted did have a bearing in the final outcome.
The two sides travel to Cuttack for the third one-dayer on December 21.
Pacer Zaheer Khan struck thrice in quick succession after Ashish Nehra got the prized wicket of Dilshan to raise visions of a second successive a second successive come-from-behind win for the hosts before Angelo Mathews, who remained unbeaten on 37, guided the visitors home.
Dilshan, who struck 12 fours and two sixes, and fellow opener Upul Tharanga (37) gave the Lankan innings a flying start scoring 102 in 14 overs to ease the job for the latter order batsmen.
Dilshan fell in the 36th over, yorked by Ashish Nehra bowling his second spell, and then Zaheer sent back Mahela Jayawardene (39), Thilina Kandamby (27) and Chamara Kapugedara (2), the latter two in the space of three balls.
But Mathews, who used a runner in the later part of his crucial knock, kept his cool and gathered runs after having lost Kandamby in the first over of the batting power play, taken after the 44th over when the visitors were 262 for four, and Lanka coasted home at 302 for seven in 49.1 overs.
Earlier, Dhoni cracked his sixth hundred and strung together a breezy century stand with Suresh Raina to lift his side to an imposing 301 for seven after electing to bat first.
Dhoni, who faced 111 balls and struck eight fours and two sixes, had the proverbial cat's luck as he was let off on four occasions by the butter-fingered Lanka fielders, thrice by his counterpart Kumar Sangakkara before he reached 50.
The India captain punished the Sri Lankans with his second successive hundred in ODIs at this venue, following his match-winning 124 against Australia on October 28.
Dhoni, who fell to impressive debutant Suraj Randiv for 107 in 111 balls that included eight fours and two sixes, and Raina (68) stitched a stand of 126 in only 119 balls for the fifth wicket to lift India to the 300-plus score after the hosts were struggling just past the halfway stage.
Coming together when their side were 132 for four in the 27th over, they helped their side with a run-a-ball partnership on a wicket that offered a lot of turn to the slow bowlers and not a bowler's graveyard as was the case in the first ODI at Rajkot.
Dhoni was lucky to escape getting out three times before he crossed 50 with Sangakkara being the culprit on all three occasions.
Dhoni rode on these reprieves and surged his way with lofted hits and upper cuts while Raina slammed 68 in only 55 balls with three sixes and four fours.
The home team innings was built around their partnership after the steadying half-century stand (62) between Sachin Tendulkar (43) and Virat Kohli (54) followed by another 51-run partnership between Kohli and the Indian captain for the fourth wicket.
The partnership between Tendulkar, who hit only four fours in his 52-ball knock, and Kohli resurrected the innings after India were left at a difficult 19 for two following the cheap dismissals of in-form Sehwag (4) and Gambhir (2).
Thanks to the big partnership between Dhoni and Raina, who departed in the 47th over caught at mid-wicket, and a quick-fire 42 between the former and Ravindra Jadeja (12 not out) in only 19 balls India reached a total that looked good enough to win them the match.
The expected fireworks from Indian openers, especially Sehwag who slammed a career-high 146 with 17 fours and six sixes in the first ODI at Rajkot, did not happen.
Sehwag started with a bang, square driving left arm pacer Chanaka Welegedara to the point fence but fell three balls later in trying to repeat the shot. The extra bounce did in the Delhi dasher and the resultant edge was caught by a leaping Sangakkara behind the stumps.
Tendulkar started in a cautious manner and hit his first four in only the fourth over with a typically wristy turn off his pads off Angelo Mathews.
India were in some bother at 19 for two in the fifth over and were rallied by Tendulkar, who played some stunning pulls and clips off his pads, and the young Virat Kohli who put on a half century stand at just over run a ball.
Kohli played some lovely flicks to fine leg and drives to the cover region but saw his senior partner Tendulkar depart stumped by Sangakkara off Ajantha Mendis.
Kolhi reached his third half century in a quick 57 balls but fell top debutant spinner Suraj Randiv.
Dhoni and Raina then went berserk to helped India cross the 300-mark.