Bowlers set up India’s Asia Cup victory (Lead)

June 25th, 2010 - 12:29 am ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan Singh Dambulla, June 24 (IANS) A clinical performance from the bowlers saw India crush Sri Lanka by 81 runs and win the Asia Cup cricket tournament here Friday.
It turned out to be a lopsided contest as the Sri Lankan batsmen, chasing 269 runs for victory, surrendered without much of a fight in the face of some brilliant bowling by India.

Ashish Nehra was the pick of the bowlers, claiming four wickets for 40 runs and single-handedly running through the strong Sri Lankan top order.

Zaheer Khan (2-36) and Praveen Kumar (1-29) proved the ideal foil while spinners Ravindra Jadeja (2-29) and Harbhajan Singh (0-30), too, played their part.

India had lost to Sri Lanka in the last league match Tuesday when the batting misfred, but they picked thmeselves up with a commanding performance Thursday. India, thus became the Asian champions after 1997, when they beat the same opponent in the final.

“We needed to raise the level in the final. It is good to win a final after a long time. We do not really do well in the finals and it is something we talked about,” said Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who took four catches and also stumped Nuwan Kulasekara.

“We were happy putting 268 runs on the board. We wanted to dismiss Tillakaratne Dilshan early. He can score 30-40 runs in just a matter of few overs. Zaheer and Ashish bowled one of the best spells under the condition. The fast bowlers were impressive and they out Sri Lanka under pressure,” he said.

It was an outstanding show from India, who twice lost to Zimbabwe with a young side last month drawing much criticism.

The only time India looked under some pressure was when two quick wickets saw India reduced to 167 for four. Both the set batsmen Dinesh Karthik (66) and Dhoni (38) were out within a space of 21 runs, but Rohit Sharma (41) and Suresh Raina (29) held the fort with a 50-run stand for the fifth wicket.

Ravindra Jadeja later chipped in with 25 runs.

The Indian bowlers never allowed Sri Lankan chase to take off.

The dangerous Tillakaratne Dilshan left in the very first over with just five runs on the board when he mistimed a pull shot to give Nehra his first wicket.

Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara batted for five overs, but could not break the shackles.

Tharanga was bowled by a beatiful Zaheer delivery that cut back to shatter his stumps as he shouldered the ball.

The reliable Sri Lankan pair of Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene was separated when Nehra had the latter caught behind and then two balls later immediately got rid of Angelo Mathews, who gave Dhoni his second catch.

Nehra removed Sangakkara next to leave Sri Lanka struggling at five for 51.

Thilina Kandamby (31 not out) and Chamara Kapugedera (55 not out) tried to revive the innings with a 53 runs stand, but Indian spinners kept the pressure on the two batsmen.

The partnership was broken when Kandamby was run out and from there on, it was just a matter of time for India to mop up the Sri Lankan tail.

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