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WC 2003 - Sachin, Srinath help India cruise into semi-finals

Published: Thursday, November 28, 2002, 22:55 [IST]
 
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Johannesburg: Sachin Tendulkar and Javagal Srinath battered Sri Lanka with bat and ball as India stormed into the World Cup semi-finals with an outstanding 183-run victory on Monday.

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Tendulkar blasted 97, shattering his own World Cup record in the process, as India piled up 292 for six after being surprisingly sent to bat in perfect batting conditions at the Wanderers.Srinath then grabbed three wickets with his first 10 deliveries while fellow paceman Ashish Nehra also finished with identical figures of four for 35 as Sri Lanka crashed from 15 for four to 109 all out.

Four of Sri Lanka's five top batsmen failed to score while the best stand of the innings of 31 came from the last-wicket pair of Dilhara Fernando and Muttiah Muralitharan.The emphatic win not only confirmed India's berth in the last four before its last Super Sixes game against New Zealand but also ensured its will avoid reigning champions Australia in the semi-finals. Saurav Ganguly's men are likely to finish second or third in the Super Sixes which gives them a semi-final under the Kingsmead lights at Durban on March 20.Australia, which was almost certain to top the table, will take on the fourth-placed team in the first semi-final at Port Elizabeth on March 18.

Sri Lanka must now defeat Zimbabwe heavily in its last Super Sixes match at East London on Saturday to keep its slim hopes alive.Tendulkar's blazing knock took his run tally in the tournament to 571, surpassing his own record of 523 during the 1996 World Cup held in the Indian sub-continent.But One-day cricket's most successful batsman narrowly missed a 35th career century - and a record fifth World Cup ton - for the second time in three matches when he top-edged a paddle sweep off Aravinda De Silva to wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara.

The soft dismissal, after Tendulkar had the Sri Lankan attack at his mercy with seven fours and a six, followed his departure for 98 against Pakistan when he fended a vicious bouncer from Shoaib Akhtar.Virender Sehwag returned to form with 66 off 76 balls during a first-wicket stand of 153 with Tendulkar, before skipper Saurav Ganguly chipped in with 48 to boost the total. Srinath, the 33-year-old veteran playing his fourth and last World Cup, wrecked Sri Lanka's reply even before the 15,000 fans had settled back after lunch.

The Indian pace spearhead had Marvan Atapattu caught by Mohammad Kaif with his third delivery and then removed Jehan Mubarak, who replaced the injured Hashan Tillekeratne, caught behind with his fifth.Mahela Jayawardene, who managed just 16 runs in his previous seven innings in the tournament, continued his horror run when he was claimed leg before by Zaheer Khan in the next over.With his 10th delivery, Srinath trapped de Silva plumb in front and then shut out Sri Lanka's hopes by removing captain Sanath Jayasuriya in his fourth over.Jayasuriya braved a bruised forearm and a fractured thumb - the legacy of a Brett Lee special last week - to play the key match but was clearly hampered with both bat and ball.

He conceded 27 runs in three overs and then contributed only 12 runs after team-mate Chaminda Vaas became the leading bowler in the tournament with 18 wickets.Muralitharan, expected to be the main threat for the Indian batsmen, finished with three for 46, including two wickets in the slog overs.Copyright AFP 2001

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