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Sri Lanka 'A' lift Kenstar Cup

December 30, 2003 17:17 IST

Sri Lanka romped home to an easy seven-wicket win over India in the final of the Asian 'A' Teams' tournament to lift the Kenstar Cup at Kolkata.

The visitors skittled out India for a paltry 197 in 44.4 overs, with man of the match Pervez Maharoof returning figures of four for 30, and then rode on fine knocks by Jehan Mubarak (61), P Jayawardane (54) and skipper Russel Arnold (35 not out) to reach the target of 198 and close the issue in 33.4 overs at the Eden Gardens.

Watched in dismay by a crowd of around 50,000, the Indians missed easy catches and conceded several overthrows as the Lankans looked in complete control throughout their chase, which centred around a 104-run second wicket partnership between Mubarak and Jayawardane which took the game away from the home side.

Mubarak, who compiled his 50 from just 57 balls, was lucky to survive on 19 when he edged off-spinner Sarandeep Singh to slip, but India 'A' skipper Hemang Badani, instead of going for the catch, took evasive action.

But that was Mubarak's only blemish who played a confident knock dispatching the Indian bowlers for three boundaries and two sixes during his 65-ball innings.

Jayawardane, who also reached his half-century of 57 balls, was lucky to survive at 47 when wicketkeeper Ajay Ratra failed to latch on to an easy catch off leg-spinner Sairaj Bahutule.

Finally, Sarandeep Singh removed Mubarak as the batsman went for a big hit and Patel took a well-judged catch at long off.

Bahutule got Jayawardane leg before to raise hopes of a turnaround, but man of the series Russel Arnold and Nawaz (18 not out) remained unseparated till the end to fashion a fantastic Lankan triumph.

The Lankans had started their chase on a confident note, with opener S Kalavitigoda picking up two fours in the very first over bowled by Amit Bhandari, and then continued aggressively with all his first four scoring shots being boundaries.

However, Bhandari ended Kalavitigoda's brief knock by trapping him leg before, a decision which left the opener unhappy. Mubarak was then joined by Jayawardane and the two went about their task coolly, taking singles to rotate the strike and opened up only in the latter part of the innings.

None of the Indian bowlers could worry the Lankan willowers as the wicket eased up as the day wore on.

Earlier in the morning, S Sriram, playing his first match in the tourney, struck a gritty 65, even as India 'A' frittered away a promising start to fold up in 44.4 overs on a slow wicket.

Southpaw Sriram (82b, 4x4) looked composed and defied cramps to anchor the hosts' innings with a chanceless knock, as wickets fell at regular intervals at the other end, till he was run out in the 40th over.

Electing to bat first on winning the toss, India 'A' launched their innings well, with Gautam Gambhir (24) and Sanjay Bangar (26) adding 44 runs for the first wicket.

Gambhir, in fine form throughout the tournament, played a series of blazing shots, till he departed in the ninth over, trying to pull Nuwan Zoysa, missing the line to see his stumps disturbed.

After Bangar returned to the pavilion, Badani (23) and Sriram put on 46 runs for the third wicket before the skipper fell victim to a doubtful caught behind decision in left arm spinner Ranga Herath's opening over.

Yuvraj Singh (18) looked promising, and India 'A' seemed well placed for a big total at 140 for 3. But then the downslide started as they lost the remaining seven wickets for only 57 runs. The middle order collapsed like a pack of cards against the disciplined bowling of Herath and Maharoof.

Scoreboard:

India 'A':
 G Gambhir b Zoysa                                24
 S Bangar c Mubarak b Maharoof         26
 S Sriram run out                                    65
 H Badani c Jayawardane b Herath         23
 Y Singh c C Silva b Mubarrak               18
 D Mongia c Mubarak b Herath              5
 A Ratra b Maharoof                              15
 S Bahutule run out                                   1
 S Singh lbw b Maharoof                         0
 A Bhandari lbw b Maharoof                   5
 M Patel not out                                       1

Extras (lb-3, nb-9, w-2)              14

Total (all out in 44.4 overs)        197

Fall of wickets: 1/44, 2/66, 3/112, 4/140, 5/153, 6/182, 7/184, 8/184, 9/196.

Bowling: N Zoysa 8-1-30-1, T Lakshitha 8-0-43-0, P Maharoof 9.4-0-30-4, J Mubarrak 9-0-45-1, R Herath 10-0-46-2.

Sri Lanka 'A':
 S Kalavitigoda lbw b Bhandari           18
 J Mubarak c Patel b Singh                61
 P Jayawardane lbw b Bahutule           54
 R Arnold not out                                35
 N Nawaz not out                               18

Extras (lb-9, w-3)                   12

Total (for 3 wkts, in 33.4 overs)   198

Fall of wickets: 1/35, 2/139, 3/148

Bowling: A Bhandari 6-0-23-1, M Patel 4-0-20-0, S Singh 9.4-0-60-1, S Bangar 3-0-19-0, D Mongia 3-0-16-0, S Bahutule 8-0-51-1.

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