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Published: Friday, June 15, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
Bowlers bail Sri Lanka out yet again
Colombo: Pressure has begun to mount on India captain Saurav Ganguly after his team's second successive defeat in the triangular One-day cricket series.India lost to New Zealand by 84 runs in its opening day-night game on Friday and then to Sri Lanka by six runs on Sunday. The hosts have won both their matches and New Zealand one.Ganguly's men are under pressure to deliver in the remaining four league games to stay in contention for the August 5 final. The Indian skipper was disappointed with his batsmen after his team's defeat in a close match against Sri Lanka. "We are in trouble," he said on Monday. "There is no excuse for not scoring seven more runs in the last over with three wickets in hand on this batting track. If we cannot do that, there will be problems for us."India, chasing 222 off its allotted 50 overs, required 12 to win off the final over bowled by off spinner Kumar Dharmasena, but Rahul Dravid and Sameer Dighe could manage only five singles."We lost the game in the last over," Ganguly said. "We should have won this match because I think the target was achievable. We can't blame the wicket for our defeat."He said he did not believe that changes in the batting order had affected his team's chances.India started its chase with make-shift openers Amay Khurasiya and Yuvraj Singh and then sent off spinner Harbhajan Singh in at number four as a pinch hitter but the move failed to produce the desired result.Each opener contributed 12 runs and Harbhajan scored just one."Dravid and I are experienced batsmen and we thought we should be in the middle when spinners Muthiah Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya were bowling because spin was Sri Lanka's strength," said Ganguly, a specialist opener in One-dayers who batted at number five in Sunday's match."We had decided to send Harbhajan at number four earlier. It was not a decision taken at the moment," he said. He praised man-of-the-match Suresh Perera for his contribution to Sri Lanka's victory."He batted decently," Ganguly said. "The stand between him and Dharmasena was very crucial."Sri Lankan skipper Jayasuriya said he had been looking for a bowler who could bat and was glad to have found one in Perera. "I hope he will continue his good work," he said. "He is doing his job hundred percent and I am really happy with his performance."Batting, however, continued to worry the Sri Lankan captain. "We would like to get more runs on the board, but that is not happening," he said. "The batsmen have to realise that they have to come out of this situation and bat with responsibility."Jayasuriya said it was still one of the best victories. "It was one of the best matches I have ever played in. We did not have enough runs on the board, but fortunately our bowlers once again did the job for us."Sri Lanka will meet New Zealand in the next match of the tournament on Wednesday.