Hobart: On a day that India needed to be at their most attacking, with their finals hopes hanging by a thread, they were palpably below-par as Sri Lanka capitalised on their lack of intensity to deliver a dominating performance with the bat. Tillakaratne Dilshan shrugged off his initial unease against the swinging ball to gradually open up and march towards his 11th ODI century and Kumar Sangakkara played an innings as attractive as several of his abruptly-terminated cameos this tournament, only longer in duration this time, full of confidence and more pleasing to the eye. An arduous task awaits India, who need to overhaul 320 inside 40 overs to stay in contention for the finals berth; given how their batting has panned out so far this series, they may even struggle to do in 50.
As assured and commanding the Sri Lankans were with the bat, the Indians were insipid and uncertain in the field. The bowlers erred in line way too often, provided plenty of scoring opportunities and the fielders did their bit through a series of fumbles and misfields that didn't mirror the desperation that a side wanting to qualify for the final would put on display. Dilshan and Sangakkara, for their part, didn't allow their own focus and determination to waver and amid some brilliant running between the wickets that often caught the Indian fielding off guard, they were ruthless against the bad balls and adept at improvisation.
Some swing for both Zaheer Khan and Praveen Kumar would have encouraged the Indians, as would have Dilshan's rustiness against inswing early on, but Sri Lanka had the calm head of Mahela Jayawardene to guide them at the start. His assuredness stood out as he dispatched Zaheer over mid-on and deep midwicket for a four and a six, infusing the innings with fluency as his usually attacking partner was slowly but surely finding his ground.