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Thatscricket - News - SL sidesteps India on its way to title

Published: Monday, August 6, 2001, 3:07 [IST]
 
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Bangalore: Sri Lanka out played India to script a 121-run victory in the final of the Coca Cola triangular series at the R Premadasa Stadium on Sunday. Set to chase 296 at a daunting rate of 5.92 India could not have asked for a worse start. Sehwag, after punching Vaas through the covers for a scorching boundary in the previous over, displayed some lazy cricket to be run out at the non-strikers end. Ganguly played the ball towards point where Arnold picked the ball up and shied down the stumps at Sehwags end. Sehwag who had taken a few paces as a back up failed to ground his bat in time and was found millimeters short of his crease. To make matters worse, Ganguly of the very next ball, played one straight down Arnolds throat at point to reduce India to five for two in the second over.Laxman and Dravid then pulled things back for India - playing some scintillating strokes on the off-side. Laxaman and Dravid, both, dissected a packed off-side field with the precision of a surgeon. The pair added 50 of 60 balls to instil some kind of a hope in the Indian camp. This prompted Jayasuriya to get Dharmasena who almost struck in his first over had not Vaas put down Laxman at mid-off. India had a lucky reprieve as it was a sitter of a catch. However, Fernando made amends in terms of a wicket - in the next over when he had Dravid playing on to his stumps to reduce India to 61 for three. Badani then came in and wound a few blows to take India to 74 at the end of 15 overs.But once the 15-over restrictions were off, runs were even harder to come by and India had to stay content with the singles and the odd couple as India was not in a position to go for the big ones and with the mounting run-rate things were running of hand. Dharmasena, then, put things virtually out of Indias reach and made sure that Sri Lanka did not have to pay a price for having let Laxman off the hook by inducing him to lob a dolly to Jayawardene at mid-wicket. India 91 for four.Soon India went further down the drain when it lost two wickets on 100. First Yuvraj found his stumps rattled when he swashed at Arnold to a ball that kept low and in the very same over Badani was run out to leave India at 100 for six at this stage, the writing on the wall.At 114 Sodhi departed when he tried to heave Muralitharan over mid-wicket only to see his stumps shattered. Harbhajan then played a few shots before he too fell victim to Murali India 138 for eight. With nothing more left to play for but to reduce the margin of defeat, Zaheer and Dighe played around for a while before Zaheer departed at 169 and at 174 it was all over. Earlier, Jayasuriya led form the front with a superb 99 and he was ably supported by Jayawardene in the middle (57 of 80) and towards the end Arnold (52) sprinted his way towards the touch down.Having no hesitation in having to bat first, Sri Lanka then got off the block from the word go - both Jayasuriya and Gunawardene finding the ropes regularly. As he so often does, Jayasuriya hardly fails to come good on a big occasion and although he was a touch lucky in the beginning with a miscued shot falling in no mans land, he settled down well to blast the Indian bowlers around.Gunawardene eased some of the pressure off Jayasuriyas back early in the innings - by scoring at more than run a ball unlike in the previous matches were he got stuck with his batting. Given the rate at which Sri Lanka was going, Ganguly brought on Harbhajan Singh his trump as early as the ninth over. And as he has so often done in fact one would be tempted to say every time - gave India the breakthrough in his second over but not before Sri Lanka had got itself to 71 in the 11th over. Harbhajan bowling from around the wickets sent down a beauty, which had Gunawardene foxed. Expecting the ball to turn, Gunawardene (34 of 31 balls) went for the cut but was struck plumb in front as the ball held its line and crashed into his pads. However, Jayasuriya at the other end was going great guns picking up momentum and cruising into top gear. But India was to have a welcome break when Atapattu played a short ball off Sehwag straight into the hands of extra covers (Ganguly). A lot of credit for the dismissal, however, goes to the skipper who brought in the field for the new-man Atapattu. Sri Lanka at this stage was 100 for two in the 16th over and Sanath on to his 45th fifty.That was to be the only break for a while then as Sri Lanka settled down to consolidated through the mid-period of the innings taking the score to 195 at the end of the 33rd over. Notwithstanding Sri Lankas onslaught, India could have had things much better had its fielding not let them down. Earlier, the Indians failed to pouch Gunawardene who edged one between keeper and 1st slip and then made a complete mess when Jayasuriya lofted Yuvraj to long-off - Zaheer Khan came running in only to find the ball sail over his head for a four. This was in the 23rd over when the score was on 135.Ganguly, then brought on Harbhajan in a desperate attempt to break this partnership but it was Sehwag who was to be the beneficiary of yet another soft dismissal. Jayasuriya who was on 99 tried to turn Sehwag around for a single but playing against the spin he only succeeded in lobbing a dolly to Ganguly at mid-wicket. Jayasuriyas 99 came off only 102 balls. Towards the later part of the innings Jayasuriya had to make do with a runner as he suffered form cramps on a hot and humid day. Sri Lanka was reduced to 204 for three in the 35th over. The loss of Jayasuriya helped India to peg back the run rate slightly and the pressure told as Jayawardene trying to break the shackles attempted a reverse sweep off Harbhajan and completely missed it to be given leg before. Sri Lanka 218 for four in the 40th over. Harbhajan finished up with 29 for two of his quota of ten overs. Having got a double-break and with two new batsmen at the crease India then further choked things up - Sri Lanka crawling to 235 for four at the end of the 44th over. However, that was to be it as Kalu and Arnold after taking time to have look in let loose after that slaying the bowlers all around the field.In a matter of four overs Sri Lanka had 50 runs on the board to take Sri Lanka to 285 at the end of 48 overs a deep contrast to the previous four which yielded just 16 runs and the last nine only 24; the only productive period for the Indians.Sri Lanka ended up with 295 with Arnold playing a gem knocking off 52 off 45 and Kalu too ended up on a brisk 31 not out off 32. Arnold got out on the last ball trying to pull Zaheer over mid-wicket but miscued it to offer Ganguly his third catch of this match.

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