|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
India pull off close win over Sri Lanka
February 19, 2008 13:14 IST
Last Updated: February 19, 2008 17:56 IST
India revived their hopes of a berth in the final of the CB Tri-series as they recovered from early jolts to script a thrilling two-wicket victory over Sri Lanka [Images] in a crucial game in Adelaide on Tuesday.
After the islanders posted a competitive 238 for 6, largely built around Kumar Sangakkara's 128, the Indian batsmen overcame some anxious moments before overhauling the target with just five balls to spare, in a keenly-contested floodlit encounter at the Adelaide Oval.
The beleaguered Yuvraj Singh [Images] marked his return to form with a 70-ball 76 while captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni [Images] (50 not out), Irfan Pathan [Images] (31) and Rohit Sharma (24) were the other notable performers.
The victory consolidated India's position for a place in the best-of-three finals and they need to win at least one of their remaining two matches to qualify for the summit showdown.
Australia are at the top of the points table with 17 from five matches, followed by India, who have 12 points from as many matches. Sri Lanka are at the bottom of the table with six points from four games and need to win two of their next three matches to make it to the final.
India play Australia next in Sydney on February 24.
The Indian run chase began on a disastrous note as they lost Sachin Tendulkar [Images] (0), Gautam Gambhir [Images] (15) and Robin Uthappa (10) cheaply. At one stage they were precariously placed at 35 for three, before Yuvraj and Dhoni came to the rescue.
India needed three runs from Fervez Maharoof's last over and Dhoni completed his half century, hitting the last two runs, triggering off wild celebrations in the dressing room.
The Indians owe their win to Yuvraj, who turned around his disastrous tour with a sumptuous 76 off 70 balls, inclusive of ten fours and a six, which revived the team.
No less remarkable was the sixth-wicket pair of Dhoni and Pathan, who shared a 58-run stand and brought India closer to victory.
The Indians still found themselves slipping into a quagmire after losing three wickets.
Pathan attempted a wild slog off Amarasinghe to leave India on 216 for 6 in the 46th over and then young Praveen Kumar (6) and Harbhajan Singh [Images] (3) left with the team still three runs short in the 49th over.
Ishant Sharma blocked the last two deliveries to deny Lasith Malinga [Images] further success.
The first ball of the final over was a wide and then Dhoni steered one towards point boundary to scamper home for the required two runs.
It also earned him a half century, a remarkable effort as the courageous youngster faced 68 balls without hitting a single four.
Tendulkar was all squared up by a swinging delivery from Lasith Malinga that pitched on the leg-stump and then swung to hit the master's off-stump.
Uthappa and Gambhir were all nerves and edges as they put on 31 runs for the second wicket before leaving crease in quick succession.
Uthappa made a call for a single after hitting straight to short mid-off and Sanath Jayasuriya connected with a direct hit to leave him stranded at the non-striker's end by a small margin.
Two runs later, Gambhir departed off a leg side deflection though the television replays were inconclusive if the ball had gone off his bat or pads to wicketkeeper Kumara Sangakkara.
Yuvraj then took control of the proceedings with a breathtaking knock which never allowed the bowlers to get on top.
Yuvraj creamed a couple of off-drives within no time of arrival at the crease and when Muthiah Muralitharan was introduced in the 21st over, he came down the track off the third ball to hit it down the ground and before the over was out, hoisted one to the midwicket fence.
Sharma also began to find his feet and essayed a breathtaking pull off Maharoof as the 50 for the stand was raised off 51 balls.
Sharma then lost his wicket with an injudicious sweep off Muthiah Muralitharan which he connected too well for his own good. The ball went straight to the midwicket fence where the fielder made no mistake with the chance.
Sri Lanka innings
Earlier, Kumar Sangakkara played the familiar role of a saviour. The left-hander smashed 128, his seventh ODI century, and put on 153 runs for the third wicket with skipper Mahela Jayawardene [Images] (71) after the duo came together with the score reading six for two in the third over.
Sangakkara walked on to the crease in the first over itself and stayed till the penultimate over as he carted 12 boundaries around the Adelaide Oval while facing 156 deliveries.
Jayawardene faced 99 balls and hit four boundaries and a six.
The captain departed in the 37th over, a hard cruel dismissal, when bowler Praveen Kumar intercepted a drive from Sangakkara which then deflected on to the non-striker's end with Jayawardene out of his crease.
It was not the only such dismissal for Sri Lanka as opener Sanath Jayasuriya had fallen in a similar manner in the third over when he found himself out of crease after Munaf Patel [Images] deflected a shot in his follow-through on to the stumps.
Sri Lanka were in dire straits when the two senior pros got together and gradually got the innings back on rails.
The two almost completely concentrated on protecting their wickets in the initial overs as the three Powerplays of 20 overs yielded only 60 runs. The 100 of the innings was up only in the 28th over of the innings.
Sangakkara had a huge slice of luck when he was caught at midwicket off Praveen Kumar, only for the ball to be declared a beamer and thus a no ball.
Sangakkara and Jayawardene gradually came into their own and whereas the 100-run stand between the two came in 155 balls, the next 50 between them took only 54 deliveries.
Jayawardene flexed his arms in the 34th over swinging Ishant Sharma over midwicket for a massive six. When Sangakkara swept Harbhajan Singh to square-leg for a four, it appeared that Sri Lankans were now ready to enjoy the fruits of their hard labour.
But Jayawardene's unfortunate dismissal halted the process and Sri Lanka were further hampered when Chamara Kapugedara (1) was run out by a direct throw from Rohit Sharma to the non-striker's end.
Sangakkara moved towards his century with two successive fours off Ishant Sharma which took him to 95.
The left-hander completed his century when he walked down the track to hit Munaf Patel through the leg-side for a boundary. He followed it up with one over mid-off for another boundary. His century took 141 deliveries and contained nine fours.
India's first success came in the first over itself when Tillakaratne Dilshan (4) edged an outswinger from Munaf Patel into the hands of wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.