India falter at final hurdle

Disciplined Lanka score four-wicket win to emerge champions

India falter at final hurdle


The debacle was inevitable once they were reduced 60 for five in 10.4 overs, but India survived some major blows to post 245, courtesy a fine third one-day hundred from Suresh Raina after they were asked to bat first. But Lanka overhauled the target after a few jitters for a four-wicket win to emerge deserving winners in the tri-series.

Lankan chase did not get off to a desired start, losing Upul Tharanga in the first over to Ashish Nehra. But the Delhi left-arm paceman could not be a part of action for too long, limping out of the park with a groin injury after 2.2 overs.

But the early departure of Tharanga did not deter skipper Kumar Sangakkara and Tillkaratne Dilshan as the duo pulverized the Indian bowlers with an array of quality shots. There were moments when S Sreesanth troubled them with pace and bounce, but they withered it to torment the men in blue with a stand of 90.

Yuvraj Singh snapped the flowering alliance, inducing an edge from Dilshan for Dhoni. Sangakkara too did not last long as the left-hander, after completing a more than run-a-ball fifty, fell to Harbhajan Singh, sharp turn and bounce deceiving him.
The dismissal of Sangakkara saw the Indian bowlers coming up with a tight effort with the ball and on the field. But they hit a roadblock in Mahela Jayawardene, who played a pragmatic innings and stayed till the end to take Lanka home.

Quite appropriately, Jayawardene applied the finishing touches in style smashing Sreesanth for three consecutive fours before punching in the air in an urchin flourish.
Earlier, Indian frontline batsmen succumbed to their indiscretions. The rot started when Gautam Gambhir returned after a freaky dismissal, ball bouncing off his thigh pads to rattle the timber to give Nuwan Kulasekara his first wicket.

Virat Kohli entered the field with loud applauses ringing in the background, but the 21-year looked edgy throughout his brief stay, perhaps the occasion got the better of him. The Delhi lad finally departed chasing a wide delivery from Chanaka Welegedara, edging it to Sangakkara behind the stumps.

Yuvraj too found the wide ball from Welegedara having magnetic quality and his prod brought Thilan Samraweera into business. Kulasekara was successful again when Mahendra Singh Dhoni feathered him to Sangakkara. However, Virender Sehwag was in his elements at the other end swatting the ball away like an irritant fly. At that time the day seemed to belong to him, but Sehwag’s attempt to upper cut Welegedara resulted in giving a simple catch to Sangakkara.

All of a sudden Indian card read 60 for five with only Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja remaining in the recognized batsmen’s list. Then it seemed only a matter of time Lankan bowlers snaffled the remaining Indian wickets like sharks devour shrimps.
But Raina and Jadeja produced a gritty sixth-wicket alliance worth 106 runs to thwart the Lankan ambitions of bringing a quick end to Indian innings. The situation warranted watchful approach and the two youngsters responded to the task in brilliant fashion.
The duo concentrated mainly on singles and the steady but constant flow of runs helped the run-rate to flit around five most of the time. Raina, first with Jadeja and then in the company of Harbhajan Singh, played a sensible innings to take India to a competitive total.
DH News Service

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