Thatscricket - News - Laxman guides India to crucial win over Lanka

Published: Sunday, July 29, 2001, 3:35 [IST]
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Colombo: Venkat Sai Laxman scored a timely unbeaten 87 to guide India to a crucial seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the triangular One-day series on Saturday.His fourth half-century, coming off 127 balls with 10 fours, helped his team surpass Sri Lanka's total of 183 with 26 balls to spare.Laxman put on 66 for the second wicket with make shift opener Virender Sehwag (27) and 84 for the next with acting-captain Rahul Dravid (43).India's first win in four matches kept alive its chances of making it to the August 5 final. It was the home team's first defeat in four games.Sri Lanka and New Zealand, who have won three and two matches, respectively, will meet in the next game on Tuesday. India had earlier contained Sri Lanka to a small total despite a 103-run stand for the opening wicket between skipper Sanath Jayasuriya (57) and Romesh Kaluwitharana (46).Sri Lanka, comfortably placed at 143 for two after 35 overs, lost its last eight wickets for just 40 runs against India's disciplined spin-pace combination.Off spinner Harbhajan Singh and left-arm seamers Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra each took two wickets to bring their team back into the game.India batted sensibly after the second-ball dismissal of Amay Khurasia, bowled off an inside-edge in left-arm fast bowler Chaminda Vaas' opening over.Sehwag batted aggressively, hitting Vaas and his fellow-seamer Suresh Perera for two fours each and Dilhara Fernando for one in his 41-ball knock. The opener, dropped on nine by lone-slip Mahela Jayawardene off Fernando, fell in the 14th over when he drove off spinner Kumar Dharmasena straight to Kumar Sangakkara at mid-off.Laxman began with a flurry of shots, once pulling and twice cover-driving Vaas for three boundaries in an over.However, he curbed his strokes against the spinners, especially off spinner Muthiah Muralitharan who conceded a miserly 28 in his 10 overs. Laxman and Dravid did not take any risks, relying more on singles and twos in the middle overs to consolidate their team's position.When Dravid fell edging a Vaas outswinger, India required 33 more runs to win from its last 13 overs with seven wickets in hand. Laxman continued to bat confidently to complete the job.India did not start the day on an impressive note as Jayasuriya scored his 44th half-century to post the tournament's first century-plus stand for the opening wicket with Kaluwitharana.His teammates showed poor shot-selection to waste the early advantage, Marvan Atapattu (34) being the only other batsman to defy the Indian attack.Harbhajan showed the way with the dismissal of Jayasuriya, caught by Khurasia at deep mid-wicket.Zaheer and Nehra, punished by the Sri Lankan captain in the initial overs, bowled tightly in the closing stages. Jayasuriya led the Sri Lanka run-spree in the opening overs after winning the toss and electing to bat.He looked in fine form, middling the ball extremely well and regularly finding gaps to keep pressure on the Indian fielders. Nehra was the first to suffer, as Jayasuriya pulled him for a boundary and then swung him over square-leg for a six.The Indian bowlers, however, struck back in the closing overs and then Laxman pressed home the advantage with an impressive knock.

Copyright AFP 2001


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