Thatscricket - News - SL squeezes out thrilling six-run win

Published: Monday, July 23, 2001, 4:02 [IST]
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Bangalore: Sri Lanka squeezed a thrilling six-run victory over India in its second match of Coca Cola Cup at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, to top the table at the end of the first round of league matches. Sri Lanka bowled well in the beginning ten and last ten overs to wriggle itself out of a tight situation. Murali in particular striking two vital blows when it mattered most.Needing 222 for a win, India did not get the desired start it was looking for. Opening with two inexperienced cricketers, India lost Yuvraj (12 of 17 balls) to what can be termed as a soft dismissal, when he was caught at square-leg (Murali) trying to flick Perera of his hips. India 26 for one in the sixth over.India was soon reduced to 29 for two in the eight over, when Perera in his very next over trapped Khurasia (12 of 23 balls) for one of the most plumb lbw decisions. In the very next over Harbhajan, who was sent in to hit a few blows in order ease the run flow, departed in trying to heave Vaas over the in-field. India at this stage was reduced to 30 for three in ninth over, and in trouble.Laxman and Ganguly then steadied things with a partnership of 41 (58 balls) before Laxman (17 of 29 balls) got a snotter of a delivery that got the feather of Laxmans bat on its way to the keeper. But Laxman seemed to be unhappy over the decision. Laxman played a couple of his exquisite drives in his short stint at the crease.The fall of this wicket slowed down the run rate a little bit for India. India scoring 24 runs in the following eight overs. They, then, began to open out - accruing their singles on a more regular basis and punctuating it with the odd boundary. Ganguly, in particular, was getting those much-needed boundaries. He took on most of Murali, and successfully at that, making sure they scored three to four runs off him.On reaching his fifty, he then danced down the track and hoisted Jaysuriya for a soaring six over mid-wicket. He also danced down the track and smacked Murali for a boundary through covers. When things looked set and looked like steadily swinging Indias way Ganguly departed caught at widish short fine-leg trying to sweep Arnold. The pair put on 80 potential runs. India at this stage was at 151 for five in the 38th over needing close to six runs per over.Sodhi then stepped in and continued to score without much fuss, picking up the singles and twos to keep up the momentum built up by the Ganguly-Dravid pair and put up 27 valuable runs in even time. Realising that this partnership was threatening to flourish and that the Indians were getting within striking distance, Jayasuriya brought in his strike bowler, who only had two overs up his sleeve, hoping for some magic from him. And as he has always done, Murali delivered with a beauty of a delivery, which spun like a top. Sodhi trying to cut Murali against the spin was left hapless, as all he could do was watch the ball crash into his stumps; to leave India 178 for six in the 43rd over.Sehwag too went about getting the ones and twos taking the match towards a thrilling climax. When it was 197 for six at the end of the 46th over, Jayasuriya called upon Murali, yet again, in a last ditch effort. With only one over left, Murali struck again to dismiss Sehwag caught by Perera at long on to reduce India to 200 for seven in the 47th over.This wicket was to be the last for Sri Lanka but it did not need any more as it then tightened the noose to choke India for runs. Jayasuriya came in to bowl the 49th over with India needing 17 runs and bowled a very tight over giving away just five.Needing 12 of the last over India managed only five leaving Sri Lanka victors by six runs. Earlier, having elected to take first strike, Sri Lanka got off to a good, if not solid, start with its openers putting on 47 in 11 overs. Sri Lankan could have done better, if not for Gunawardene who got off to a very slow start and struggled to get the ball off the square. However, Jayasuriya made up for the lack of his partners fluency by picking up his customary boundaries through point. He also hoisted Mohanty for a six over mid-wicket.When it looked like Sri Lanka had built itself a good launching pad, in walked Harbhajan Singh and changed all of that in a matter of a couple of overs. Coming in the 12th over the Turbunator had Jayasuriya (34 of 41 balls) stumped off a wide ball. On this occasion it was Dighe who effected a brilliant stumping- collecting the ball way down the leg side. This gave India its first strike at 48.In his very next over, Singh had another prize scalp - that of Marvan Atapattu, when he had him caught at forward short-leg. This reduced Sri Lanka to 60 for 2. The very next over, Mahela Jayawardene played a loose shot to trigger a mini collapse. Chasing a wide delivery of Sodhi, Jayawardene only succeeded in giving Dighe an edge, which he accepted without much fuss. Sri Lanka, at this stage, was struggling at 61 for three in the 15th over and definitely had its back to the wall. However, the lack of a second spinner (genuine) helped Sri Lankas cause. After warding off Harbhajan, the Sri Lankan pair of Gunawardene and Kaluwitharana put up a crucial 82 runs for the fourth wicket.This was when Sri Lanka had its second collapse and a major one at that, loosing four wickets in a hurry Gunawardene, Russel Arnol and Kaluwitharan. First, Gunawardene (63 of 107 balls) played a nothing shot when he stepped out of the line to cut a Sehwag delivery that was heading straight towards the middle stump. Then there was a mix up, triggered due to an outstanding piece of fielding from skipper Ganguly, which sent Arnold back to the pavilion. Very soon Kaluwitharan (36 of 52 balls) followed caught behind off Yuvraj Singh. At this stage Sri Lanka was 150 for three and at 155 in the 38th over Harbhajan trapped Vaas lbw to have Sri Lanka deep in the mire - losing its last four wickets for 12 runs.Then came, the most crucial partnership of the game a 49-run stand from Kumara Dharmasena and Suresh Perera. Both of them mixed aggression with caution to a nicety with Perera being the aggressor, who played some classic strokes. And when Dharmasena departed in the 48th over, going for the big shot at the death, the pair had got Sri Lanka back into the game.Perera also departed going for the kill. Suresh Perera notched up 28 of 31 and Dharmasena got a valuable 26 of 43 ballsThe last pair of Muthiah Muralidharan and Fernando added 10 more vital runs to take the total to 221 for nine.

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