Dhoni century lifts India to big total

Dhoni century lifts India to big total

Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni plays a shot enroot to his century at Nagpur in the second ODI aganist SL (AP)

Dhoni had the proverbial cat's luck as he was let off on four occasions by the butter-fingered Lanka fielders, thrice by his counterpart Kumar Sangakkara alone before he had reached 50, and the India captain punished them with his second successive hundred in ODIs at this venue, following his match-winning 124 against Australia on October 28.

The India captain, who fell to impressive debutant Suraj Randiv for 107 in 111 balls that included eight fours and two sixes, and Raina (68) stitched a stand of 126 in only 119 balls for the fifth wicket to lift India to the 300-plus score after the hosts were struggling just past the halfway stage.

Coming together when their side were 132 for four in the 27th over, they helped their side with a run-a-ball partnership on a wicket that offered a lot of turn to the slow bowlers and not a bowler's graveyard as was the case in the first ODI at Rajkot.

Dhoni was lucky to escape getting out three times before he crossed 50 with Sangakkara being the culprit on all three occasions.

Dhoni rode on these reprieves and surged his way with lofted hits and upper cuts while Raina slammed 68 in only 55 balls with three sixes and four fours.

The home team innings was built around their partnership after the steadying half-century stand (62) between Sachin Tendulkar (43) and Virat Kohli (54) followed by another 51-run partnership between Kohli and the Indian captain for the fourth wicket.

The partnership between Tendulkar, who hit only four fours in his 52-ball knock, and Kohli resurrected the innings after India were left at a difficult 19 for two following the cheap dismissals of in-form Virender Sehwag (4) and Gautam Gambhir (2).

Thanks to the big partnership between Dhoni and Raina, who departed in the 47th over caught at mid-wicket, and a quick-fire 42 between the former and Ravindra Jadeja (12 not out) in only 19 balls India reached a total that looked good enough to win them the match and give them a 2-0 lead in the five-match rubber.

The expected fireworks from the Indian openers, especially Virender Sehwag who slammed a career-high 146 with 17 fours and six sixes in the first ODI at Rajkot, did not happen much to the disappointment of the huge crowd.

Sehwag started with a bang, square driving left arm pacer Chanaka Welegedara to the point fence but fell three balls later in trying to repeat the shot.

The extra bounce did in the Delhi dasher and the resultant edge was caught very well high over his head by a leaping Kumar Sangakkara behind the stumps.

Tendulkar started in a cautious manner and hit his first four in only the fourth over with a typically wristy turn off his pads off Angelo Mathews.

In the next over he escaped being run-out but Gautam Gambhir was run out for two in the same over in an unfortunate manner.

India were in some bother at 19 for two in the fifth over and were rallied by Tendulkar, who played some stunning pulls and clips off his pads, and the young Virat Kohli who put on a half century stand at just over run a ball.

Kohli played some lovely flicks to fine leg and drives to the cover region but saw his senior partner Tendulkar depart stumped by Sangakkara off Ajantha Mendis.

Dhoni joined Kohli and was lucky to see his edge go for a four first-ball and then a diving Welegedara, who reacted a bit late, failing to complete a catch at third man.
Kolhi reached his third half century in a quick 57 balls but fell top debutant spinner Suraj Randiv.

Dhoni edged Mathews in the latter’s second spell but Sangakkara once again could not latch on to the catch. Dhoni was on 25. Dhoni was missed again by his counterpart twice in three balls off Mendis when one short of his half century.

Dhoni and Raina then went berserk to helped India cross the 300-mark.

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