India secure tie in tense finish

Gambhir, Dhoni lead chase but Lankans pick up their first points

India secure tie in tense finish

It was a direct contest between Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Lasith Malinga with four runs needed off the last ball, and the best death-over players in the world executed their strong points to perfection.

Malinga fired in a furious full ball outside the off-stump, and an icy-nerved Dhoni played a one-legged scoop over extra cover that appeared destined to keep its date with the ropes. But Sachithra Senanayake dived full length to parry the ball back to Nuwan Kulasekara, who fired in the throw, but Dhoni and Umesh Yadav had by then completed three runs to record a tie at the Adelaide Oval.

Sri Lanka had huffed their way to 236 for nine in 50 overs after electing to bat, and India too registered an identical score as the protagonists shared two points each. India now top the table with 10 points from four games, while Lanka’s two points from this game kept them afloat in the triangular tournament. Australia are placed second with nine points from three games.

But Tuesday’s match was beyond runs and mathematics. It was all about holding the nerves in a tight situation, and there’s no better player who fits that role than Dhoni, who belted an unbeaten 58 while masterminding India’s chase.

Taking command

The Jharkhandi came to the crease when India were struggling at 118 for four in the 28th over after Suresh Raina’s dismissal, and he took command of the proceedings from that point without a hint of panic. Dhoni was in a similar situation a couple of days ago against Australia here, and it should be studied scientifically how he keeps his heart rate and thinking process in perfect control.

A little procession started at the other end after Gautam Gambhir, who milked 60 with Dhoni for the fifth wicket, was run out for 91 after a mix-up with his skipper. Thereafter, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Irfan Pathan, who hammered a six off Angelo Mathews, and R Vinay Kumar returned to the pavilion without contributing anything significant, leaving all the work to Dhoni. Fortunately for India, in Dhoni they had a batsman who revels in such complex situations.

Gambhir, who was dismissed in the 90s for the second consecutive time, too should be given credit for keeping India firmly in the game after the early dismissals of Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. The little left-hander now seems to have put behind the days when he struggled for runs, and the return of the confident Gambhir was a welcome sight.

There was hardly any false stroke from him, and some shots like a late cut off Senanayake and a flashing cover drive off Thissara Perera underscored his growing comfort. Just when he seemed set to break a prolonged barren run of hundreds, Gambhir lost his wicket through a run out.

A large chunk of credit should also be given to the Indian bowlers, who put the brakes on the Lankan batsmen who at one stage looked like running away with the game. Captain Mahela Jayawardene and the talented Dinesh Chandimal, who crafted a superb 81, added 94 for the fourth wicket to rescue Sri Lanka from a wobbly 79 for three.

It was a brilliant partnership, and Chandimal clearly signalled to the world that he could be one of the stars in the days to come. Such was the incandescence of his stroke-making that even a sublime batsman like Jayawardene was put to shade at times. Vinay snapped the blossoming alliance, jettisoning Jayawardene, and Chandimal couldn’t beat the under-arm flick of Rohit.

The Indian bowlers, under Vinay, exploited the opportunity to run through the Lankan late order, restricting them to a manageable total. But player of the day certainly was Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Score Board

SRI LANKA

Tharanga c Dhoni b Vinay     0
(2b)
Dilshan c Dhoni b Pathan     16
(23b, 1x4, 1x6)
Sangakkara c Gambhir b Ashwin     31
(56b, 2x4)
Chandimal (run out)     81
(91b, 6x4, 1x6)
Jayawardene lbw Vinay     43
(49b, 2x4)
Mathews (run out)     17
(30b, 1x4)
Perera c Kohli b Ashwin     5
(9b)
Kulasekara c Gambhir b Vinay     12
(25b)
Senanayake (not out)     22
(14b, 3x4)
Malinga (run out)     0
(0b)
Herath (not out)     1
(1b)
Extras (LB-3, W-5)     8
Total (for 9 wkts, 50 overs)     236
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Tharanga), 2-28 (Dilshan), 3-79 (Sangakkara), 4-173 (Jayawardene), 5-178 (Chandimal), 6-184 (Perera), 7-210 (Mathews), 8-232 (Kulasekara), 9-235 (Malinga).
Bowling: Vinay 10-1-46-3 (w-1), Pathan 9-0-38-1 (w-2), Umesh 9-0-51-0, Ashwin 10-1-30-2, Jadeja 10-0-58-0, Rohit 2-0-10-0 (w-2).
Scoring Pattern: 5 overs: 17/1, 10: 32/2, 20: 79/3, 30: 137/3, 40: 186/6, End of innings: 236/9 in 50 overs.
Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 32/2; Power Play 2: 16-20 overs: 16/1; Power Play 3: 36-40 overs: 18/3.

INDIA

Gambhir (run out)     91
(106b, 6x4)
Tendulkar c S’kkara b K’sekara     15
(24b, 24)
Kohli lbw Perera     15
(25b, 1x4)
Rohit (run out)     15
(27b, 2x4)
Raina c Sangakkara b Malinga     8
(19b)
Dhoni (not out)     58
(69b, 3x4, 1x6)
Jadeja c Jayawardene b Perera     3
(10b)
Ashwin c Senanayake b Malinga     14
(13b, 1x4)
Pathan (run out)     8
(5b, 1x6)
Vinay (run out)     1
(2b)
Yadav (not out)     0
(0b)
Extras (LB-1, W-6, NB-1)     8
Total (for 9 wkts, 50 overs)     236
Fall of wickets: 1-24 (Tendulkar), 2-61 (Kohli), 3-94 (Rohit), 4-118 (Raina), 5-178 (Gambhir), 6-184 (Jadeja), 7-212 (Ashwin), 8-223 (Pathan), 9-
Bowling: Malinga 10-1-53-2 (w-1), Kulasekara 10-0-39-1 (w-1), Mathews 5-0-35-0 (nb-1, w-2), Perera 9-0-45-2 (w-1), Herath 10-1-33-0 (w-1), Senanayake 6-0-30-0.
Scoring Pattern: 5 overs: 23/0; 10: 44/1; 20: 83/2; 30: 135/4; 40: 178/4; End of Innings: 236/9 in 50 overs.
Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 44/1; Power Play 2: 16-20 overs: 15/0; Power Play 3: 36-40 overs: 23/0.

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