Tuesday, February 19, 2008

India Beat Srilanka in the 8th ODI

A calm and composed Mahendra Singh Dhoni finished off the target in the last over as India won a hard-fought match at the Adelaide Oval. Yuvraj Singh starred with a brilliant 76 as India cruised to victory by 2 wickets.

Chasing 239 for victory, India got off to a bad start when Lasith Malinga produced a virtually unplayable delivery to dismiss Sachin Tendulkar. It was a superb outswinger from Malinga, which straightened and slightly moved a shade away from the batsman. Tendulkar was all squared up and the ball knocked the back of off-stump. Tendulkar went for a duck with India at 2/1.

Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir then looked to steady the innings for India, but Uthappa could not last long as he tried to take a risky single and Jayasuriya hitting the stumps bang on. Uthappa went off for 10, as India were reduced to 33/2.

Ishara Amarasinghe then got into the act, removing Gautam Gambhir for 15, trying to tickle one down the leg side. Gambhir went when India were 35/3.

Yuvraj Singh then joined Rohit Sharma in the middle - at the back of a big slump in form. Yuvraj looked uncertain initially, but once he got his eyes in, it was one of the Yuvraj innings that flowered into a treat. His cover-drives were back, and so were his backfoot punches. And more importantly, he did not relax - giving the innings a degree of momentum, which ultimately contributed to the victory. His reached his fifty in over-a-run a ball, in 46 balls. Sharma, in the meanwhile was intent on rotating the strike and keeping the scoreboard ticking and scoring some intermittent boundaries.

Sharma, however was a victim of his own downfall as he tried to slog-sweep one from Muttiah Muralitharan, but could only manage to hole out to Chamara Silva. Sharma departed for 26. Dhoni then joined Yuvraj in the middle and India were on the ascendancy at that stage and kept going. Yuvraj and Dhoni added a superb 50-run partnership, taking India closer to the target.

Chaminda Vaas then added a twist to the tale by dislodging Yuvraj with a superb yorker, with the left-hander falling for 70-ball 76. Pathan then strode out to the middle, under immense pressure to guide his team through. He gave Dhoni able company for a good 50-run partnership, which took India extremely close. Ishara Amarasinghe added another chapter in this game when he castled Irfan Pathan, who went through with a needless shot at that time.

Then went Praveen Kumar, trying to hook the ball before it got to him - catching him off-guard with the ball taking the outside edge and looping in the air to Jayawardene in the first slip. Sri Lanka then removed Harbhajan Singh when Lasith Malinga to add a late twist in the tale, when he trapped him leg-before for 3. India at 229/8.

A brilliant century by vice-captain Kumar Sangakkara helped Sri Lanka register a competitive score of 238 in the 8th CB Series ODI at Adelaide. Sangakkara came to bat when the Lankans were 6/2 and added a massive 153-run partnership with his captain Mahela Jayawardene to ensure a strong fightback.

Earlier in the day, Sri Lanka got off to a disastrous start - losing both openers cheaply. Tillekaratne Dilshan was the first one to depart, caught behind to Munaf Patel for 4. He poked at one bowled in the channel by Patel, and the rest was done by Dhoni - who grabbed an easy catch. The next batsman to depart was Sanath Jayasuriya, thanks to some smart work by Munaf Patel - who deflected a straight drive from Sangakkara, catching Jayasuriya short of the crease.

Then came together an inspirational partnership - the Jayawardene-Sangakkara one that yeilded 153-runs. The first few overs were very difficult, with the bowlers dictating terms to the batsmen. But the duo held their nerves and got through the tough period to consolidate their position - through brisk running between the wickets and stroking the odd boundary. Jayawardene was forced to play an extremely responsible innings and supported Sangakkara right from the word go.

Both Jayawardene and Sangakkara looked aggressive once the ball lost its sheen - and played some superb timing-based boundaries, with immaculate placement. Sangakkara displayed enormous levels of patience, reaching his fifty off almost 100 balls. The partnership gathered momentum somewhere around the 25th over, when both batsmen started picking the gaps with ease. The Indian bowlers lacked ideas and were unidimensional in their approach. Jayawardene, also reached his fifty off 74 balls and started upping the ante. That included a superb six off Ishant Sharma over mid-wicket and a boundary soon after. Once both batsmen settled down, there were boundaries to see - with a lot of skill and craft displayed by the wristy two.

Jayawardene then departed for 71, in almost an identical fashion to one that got rid of Sanath Jayasuriya - with Praveen Kumar deflecting the ball to the stumps. Jayawardwene made a 99-ball 71, which took Sri Lanka past 150. Catastrophe then struck Sri Lanka as they lost Chamara Kapugedara in the very next over - thanks to a brilliant piece of fielding and throwing by Rohit Sharma. Sri Lanka were at 161/4 when Chamara Silva walked into bat.

Silva had only one responsibility - taking that single and giving Sangakkara the strike. He looked rather bogged down against some fine spell of death bowling by the Indians, and at times got stuck at the other end. He managed to begin his innings well, but when the time mattered, just got glued - and lacked intent. Sangakkara in the meanwhile, notched up his 7th hundred in ODI cricket. And there were no signs of him giving up as he plundered some cheeky boundaries in the last five overs.

Sangakkara's splendid hundred came to an end after he played a tired shot, to be caught in the deep by Praveen Kumar off Irfan Pathan for 128. And then, Silva was the final Sri Lankan wicket to fall, trying to clear the Adelaide long boundary - only to be caught by Uthappa off Harbhajan Singh in the final over of the innings, Sri Lanka scoring a tenacious 238.

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