Thatscricket - News - Cricket: Ganguly strikes timely form to steer India to win
Published: Saturday, August 25, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
Copyright AFP 2001
Ganguly, Dravid star in Indias fine victory
India's tour of Sri Lanka
Kandy: Saurav Ganguly struck timely form with an unbeaten 98 as India overwhelmed Sri Lanka by seven wickets in the second Test here on Saturday to square the three-match series.The embattled Indian captain crossed 50 for the first time in 14 innings and Rahul Dravid made 75 to steer the injury-hit tourists past the victory target of 264 just before tea on the fourth day.Ganguly narrowly missed his eighth Test century when Mohammed Kaif flicked Chaminda Vaas to fine-leg for the winning boundary. The rivals now travel to Colombo where the third and decisive Test starts at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) ground on Wednesday. Sri Lanka won the first Test at Galle by 10 wickets last week.It was a remarkable win by India, which was without five top players nursing injuries; master batsman Sachin Tendulkar, star number three Venkatsai Laxman, bowling spearheads Javagal Srinath and Anil Kumble as well as rising left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra.As the Indians celebrated, the jinx of Kandy returned to haunt the Sri Lankans, who succumbed to their third consecutive defeat at the Asgiriya stadium.In 12 Tests at this hill resort, Sri Lanka has lost seven, drawn three and won just two.While Ganguly provided the finishing touches, Dravid was the focal point of India's match-winning display.The Indian vice-captain added 61 runs for the second wicket with opener Sadagopan Ramesh and 91 for the third with Ganguly to quash Sri Lanka's hopes.Dravid was 25 runs away from his 10th Test century when he fell midway through the afternoon session, giving a simple pad-bat catch to Russel Arnold at silly point off Muthiah Muralitharan.Dravid, whose 61 not out at Galle saved India from an innings defeat, hit 12 boundaries in his 21st Test half-century.India still needed 70 when Dravid fell, but young Kaif, playing only his third Test, ensured his team returned unscathed with an unbeaten 19.Muralitharan, whose off spin was Sri Lanks's trump card, failed to extract turn on the wearing wicket and conceded 96 runs in 25 overs for his two wickets.Ganguly, uncomfortable against the rising ball outside the off-stump, enjoyed two lives during his innings. Muralitharan spilled a hard chance at point off Vaas when the batsman had added just one run to his lunch score of 26. Then on 59, Arnold floored an easy catch at second slip off Dilhara Fernando with India still 50 runs away from victory.These were, however, just the breaks Ganguly needed to silence his critics, who wanted the left-hander stripped not only of the captaincy but also his place in the team.India, 55for one overnight, began the day needing 209 more with nine wickets in hand on the wearing wicket at the Asgiriya stadium.The tourists made a confident start as Ramesh flicked the second ball of the day from Ruchira Perera to the mid-wicket fence.At the other end, Dravid cut and drove Vaas for two boundaries in one over, forcing Sri Lankan captain Sanath Jayasuriya to introduce Muralitharan in the sixth over.Dravid welcomed the wily off spinner with a backfoot cover drive that raced to the fence and repeated the shot in Muraliitharan's next over.Dravid, who survived a close leg-before appeal by Muralitharan, brought up India's 100 by cutting the same bowler for another boundary.Fernando, introduced in the 13th over, struck with his fourth ball when Ramesh gave a head high catch to a leaping Jayasuriya at first slip.