Farveez Maharoof's five-wicket haul, including a hat-trick, and half-centuries from Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene saw Sri Lanka crush India by seven wickets in the sixth and final group match of the Asia Cup 2010, in Dambulla, on Tuesday.
Medium pacer Maharoof claimed the wickets of Ravindra Jadeja, Praveen Kumar and Zaheer Khan off successive deliveries in the 39th over to register a hat-trick and finish with impressive figures of five for 42 in ten overs.
Sangakkara scored 73 from 82 balls while Jayawardene finished unbeaten on 53, from 67 balls, as Sri Lanka cruised to 211 for three in 37.3 overs, winning with 75 deliveries to spare after India were dismissed for 209.
Tillakaratne Dilshan stroked 24 from 16 balls, inclusive of four boundaries and a six, before pulling a short delivery from Zaheer Khan straight to the fielder on the square leg boundary. Upul Tharanga scored 38 from 46 balls before he was caught behind off Zaheer.
Earlier, Rohit Sharma waged a lone battle as he stroked 69 from 73 balls, inclusive of seven boundaries, before being run-out as India lasted only 42.3 overs after being sent into bat.
Sharma added 79 runs in 93 balls for the fifth wicket with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was run-out after scoring 41. The latter's dismissal triggered a lower order collapse.
Maharoof then stole the limelight. Ravindra Jadeja was trapped leg before wicket for a duck; Praveen Kumar, who was bowled off an inside edge, then followed him back to the pavilion, before Zaheer Khan edged an outgoing delivery and was caught behind by wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara.
Maharoof thus became the third Sri Lankan after Chaminda Vaas (twice) and Lasith Malinga to achieve the feat.
Left-arm spinner Herath, playing his first ODI in nearly six years, also contributed with important wickets as he finished with two for 31 in seven overs.
Earlier, Sri Lanka captain Sangakkara won the toss and elected to field. The match only served as a dress rehearsal as both teams had already made it to the final of the tournament after winning their first two games.
As expected, India made three changes to the team that beat Pakistan by three wickets in their last match. While Virender Sehwag was ruled out with a hamstring injury, India's hero from the last match Harbhajan Singh was rested along with Ashish Nehra.
Dinesh Karthik, called up as cover for Sehwag, was drafted straight into the team to open the innings, while youngster Saurabh Tiwary continued to be on the sidelines.
Pragyan Ojha and Ashok Dinda were the other two inclusions for the visitors.
It was a surprising decision by the hosts to bat second, since the floodlights at the venue have come in for a lot of criticism from all the teams. They decided to test their reserve players ahead of the final, and rested Muttiah Muralitharan, Thilan Samaraweera, Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara. The aforesaid players were replaced by Suraj Randiv, Rangana Herath, Farveez Maharoof and Thilina Kandamby.
In the absence of Malinga, the Sri Lankan bowling attack lacked the killer instinct; yet, a tight line and length did not allow the Indian openers to runaway to a good start.
Gautam Gambhir (23 from 31 balls) was the first to fall; he pulled a short delivery from Angelo Mathews but was brilliantly caught by Suraj Randiv, who dived full length to his right to complete a stunning one-handed catch at short midwicket.
Virat Kohli's poor run with the bat in the tournament continued. He was caught behind by wicketkeeper Sangakkara off Farveez Maharoff for 10.
Left-arm spinner Herath then dealt India another big blow, claiming the wicket of Karthik for 40. The right-hander was beaten by one that turned and bounced sharply and umpire Billy Bowden took ages before deciding he had edged it.
Meanwhile, closer looks at the replays showed that the ball missed the edge. It was no surprise that Karthik appeared shocked when Bowden raised his crooked finger.
It then turned out to be a mini collapse as India lost three wickets for the addition of 19 runs in the space of four overs. They were reduced to 77 for three in the 16th.
A few quiet overs followed before Rohit Sharma decided to take the attacking approach. He nearly holed out to the cover fielder as he charged down the wicket to Randiv and played the inside out shot for his first boundary.
Suresh Raina too went after Randiv as he stepped down and lofted straight down the ground for the first six of the match, in the 22nd over.
However, Herath compounded India's woes further when he claimed the wicket of Raina, who was trapped leg before wicket for 18 as he attempted to play the sweep.
The in-form Mahendra Singh Dhoni started off in fine style when he cut Randiv through point for a four. The Indian captain then hit Mathews for a couple of boundaries in the next over to take the total to 132 for four after 27 overs.
The ball was changed after 34 overs and it seemed that gave India the lift they were looking for.
Dhoni hit Welegedara for back-to-back boundaries through the leg side and Sharma lofted Kandamby over the cover region for another four as India reached 180 for four after 36 overs.
Sharma completed his fifty, his fifth in ODIs, off 62 deliveries with a single on the leg side off Maharoof in the 37th over.
But Sri Lanka staged a superb comeback as they claimed four wickets off four deliveries including a hat-trick from Maharoof that left the Indians stunned.
Dhoni went for a quick single but was run-out at the non-striker's end by a direct hit after a brisk 41 from 53 balls; he added 79 runs in 83 balls for the fifth wicket with Sharma.
Maharoof then ran through the lower middle order as he claimed three wickets off successive deliveries.
First, Jadeja was leg before wicket for a first-ball duck; the followed Praveen Kumar, who dragged it back to his stumps. Zaheer Khan edged an outgoing delivery and was taken by wicketkeeper Sangakkara, diving to his right, to give Maharoof a well deserved hat-trick.
Those four quick wickets saw India reeling at 189 for eight in the 39th over.
Maharoof ended his spell in style, bowling Ashok Dinda (2) with a full delivery to end with impressive figures of five for 42 in ten overs, his second best in ODIs.
With just one wicket left, Sharma decided to go on an all-out attack as he lofted Randiv over the off-side for a boundary. He then hit Welegedara for successive boundaries on either side of the wicket before he threw his wicket away attempting an impossible second run.
Sharma was run out for 68 from 73 balls, having hit seven boundaries, as India were bowled out for 209 in 42.3 overs.
It turned out to be a dramatic collapse for India as they lost their last six wickets for the addition of just 20 runs in the space of 28 deliveries.
Sri Lanka's innings started off with a blaze as Dilshan wasted no time to get going. He went after Zaheer Khan in his first over, hitting the pacer for two back-to-back boundaries followed by a six over square leg.
Upul Tharanga played out Praveen Kumar for a maiden in his first over, but started the pacer's next over with a lovely drive down the ground for a four. Dilshan inside edged the final delivery of the over for a boundary past the wicketkeeper as Sri Lanka raced to 24 after three overs.
Dilshan got another boundary, courtesy an inside edge, when his attempted cut shot off Zaheer went wrong. However, Zaheer had his man off the very next delivery as Dilshan pulled a short one straight to the fielder on the square leg boundary after a quick 24 from 16 balls, having hit four boundaries and a six.
However, Tharanga ensured Sri Lanka didn't lose the momentum, scoring three boundaries in the space of eight deliveries. First he uppercut Zaheer over the slips and then slammed Praveen Kumar for two boundaries in the next over to race to 27 from 34 balls.
Sangakkara creamed a full delivery from Zaheer through the covers for his first boundary as Sri Lanka were comfortably placed at 66 for one after 10 overs.
Tharanga went after Ashok Dinda in his second over, hitting him for back-to-back boundaries through the off side, in the 13th over.
Just when it looked Sri Lanka were running away with the game, India struck back with the wicket of Tharanga. The left-hander edged behind as he flirted at an outgoing delivery from Zaheer and was caught behind for 38, having hit six boundaries in his 46-ball knock.
Dinda suffered further in his fourth over, hit for three boundaries by Kumar Sangakkara, as Sri Lanka raced to 102 for two after 17 overs.
Dhoni was having a nightmare behind the stumps. First he dropped Mahela Jayawardene (0) off Dinda in the 15th over as he reacted a bit too late to an edge as the batsman looked to glance down the leg side.
Sangakkara (33) also profited when he charged down the wicket to Ojha in the 18th over, but got a fine edge that Dhoni failed to catch or collect to stump him out.
Jayawardene swept a full delivery on the leg stump by Ojha down to the boundary to take the total to 119 for two in 20 overs.
Jadeja also failed to make an impact with the ball as he kept pitching it short and was hit a boundary each by Sangakkara and Jayawardene in the 23rd over.
The Sri Lankan captain completed his half-century off 54 balls with a single off Ojha in the 24th over as the hosts continued milking the bowlers quite easily.
The two senior Sri Lankan batsmen were at their dominant best as the spinners went for plenty. Jayawardene danced down the wicket to Ojha and chipped it over the mid-on fielder, while Sangakkara slammed two more boundaries in that over as the hosts raced to 156 for two in 26 overs.
Part-timer Rohit Sharma was introduced and Jayawardene helped himself to a six over midwicket. In the next over, Sangakkara glanced Dinda fine for a four as he erred with his line, while Jayawardene slogged the pacer over midwicket for the second boundary of the over.
The Indians looked as if they were going through the motions, with the bowlers regularly erring with their line and length, while the fielding standard was below par.
The Sri Lankan duo brought up their 100-run partnership in 94 balls for the third wicket as the hosts raced to 181 for two after 30 overs.
Sangakkara finally gave his wicket away when he charged against pacer Kumar but holed out to Zaheer at mid-on, in the 32nd over. The left-hander hit 73 from 82 balls, with the help of 10 boundaries, and set Sri Lanka on the victory path with his third wicket partnership of 104 in 109 balls with Jayawardene.
Sangakkara's departure slowed down Sri Lanka's charge, as five overs passed off without a boundary. But the singles came quite easily before Jayawardene hit a boundary to finish off the match and hand Sri Lanka a big win ahead of the final on Thursday.
Jayawardene slog-swept Jadeja for a boundary through midwicket to finish unbeaten on 53 from 67 balls as Sri Lanka reached 211 for three in 37.3 overs and won by seven wickets.
The hosts dominated the contest throughout, storming to victory with 75 deliveries to spare. It will surely give them a huge psychological boost going into the title contest.