Leicester: India made short work of Leicestershire on Wednesday, beating its hosts by 54 runs in this One-day fixture ahead of the start of the triangular series with England and Sri Lanka.
India captain Saurav Ganguly (68) and Virender Sehwag (98) got the tourists off to a blistering start, putting on 132 for the first wicket against a Leicestershire attack minus the veteran ex-England duo of Devon Malcolm and Phil DeFreitas. Ganguly, who won the toss, was particularly severe on Leicestershire's medium-pacers facing just 43 balls including two sixes and 12 fours before getting himself out against Carl Crowe. Sehwag too looked in equally good touch facing 85 balls with three sixes and nine fours before he needlessly ran himself out going for a second. When the openers were in full cry a total in excess of 400 looked on the cards. But after Venkat Sai Laxman and Yuvraj Singh had both gone cheaply it needed Mohammad Kaif's well-constructed 52 from 65 balls to take India to its 50-over total of 315 for seven. If the batting, in the absence of rested pair Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, looked in good form, the new ball bowling remained a cause for concern. Neither Ashish Nehra nor Tinu Yohannan took a wicket, their combined 13 overs costing 65 runs. Meanwhile Leicestershire openers Trevor Ward and Ian Sutcliffe put on an untroubled 136 for the first wicket, setting their side up for what would have been a memorable win. But India regained control when Sutcliffe (50) was run out by wicket-keeper Ajay Ratra's direct hit on the stumps at the bowler's end, the batsman well short of his ground as he tried to take a quick single. From thereon in off spinner Harbhajan Singh and slow left-armer Yuvraj Singh took charge as Anil Kumble watched from the sidelines. Wickets fell at regular intervals, Yuvraj finishing with three for 48 and Harbhajan's more expensive one for 50 tempered by the fact that he caught and bowled middle-order danger man Darren Maddy for 30. Leicestershire made a decent effort of chasing an imposing total. But once the openers had gone they were never really in the hunt, Leicestershire finishing on 261 for seven. India plays its first match of the triangular series, against England at Lord's on Saturday and is in action again 24 hours later when Sri Lanka is its opponent at The Oval. After the One-dayers are completed on July 13, India stays on in England for a four- Test series.
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