2009 was a special year for Tillakaratne Dilshan. He averaged an incredible 55.82 in all three formats of the game, aggregating a total 10 centuries and eight fifties in that period. While he produced some spectacular performances throughout the year, his innings against India in the first ODI of the five-match series stood apart from the lot. And he had ended up being on the losing side.
On this day in 2009, Sri Lanka nearly became only the second side in the history of ODI cricket to have chased down a score in excess of 400. Unfortunately for them, they fell agonisingly short by three runs.
Earlier in the day, Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara would have been ruing his decision to field first after India had managed to amass a massive 414 for seven from their fifty overs. Opener Virender Sehwag bludgeoning 146 runs from 102 balls, inclusive of 17 fours and six maximums in his innings. Sachin Tendulkar added a steady 69 from 62 balls and MS Dhoni chipped in with a quickfire 72 off 53 balls with Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja adding some valuable runs in the end to take the score beyond 400.
Interestingly, while MS Dhoni batted at No. 3 in the game, Gautam Gambhir batted at No.5, Harbhajan Singh at No.6 and Virat Kohli at No.7!
But the Indian bowlers had a task on hand after seeing the way openers Dilshan and Upul Tharanga went about their innings. They had to wait till the 24th over for their first breakthrough, which put to an end a massive 188-run stand. But then the skipper carried from the where the previous pair had left off and took the attack to the bowlers. Sangakkara fell short of his century by 10 runs but he had smashed 90 off just 43 balls with 10 fours and five sixes to his name, while Dilshan did managed to cross three figures. The duo had brought their side within 99 runs of the target, with over 13 overs to spare.
The run-chase derailed as the Indian bowlers, along with a run out, managed four wickets within the next four overs to peg back Sri Lanka's momentum. Thilina Kandamby and Angelo Mathews put an end to the collapse and brought the visitors within 15 runs from the target with two overs to go.
But India's seamers Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra held their nerves, taking three wickets but more importantly, only conceding 11 runs at the end to seal a thriller for India.
Virender Sehwag was awarded the player of the match for his spectacular innings but the innings of the night certainly belonged to Dilshan for his heroic effort.