India beat Sri Lanka by 7 wickets, reach finals

February 26th, 2008 - 1:11 pm ICT by admin  

Hobart, Feb 26 (ANI): India came up with a brilliant all round performance to beat Sri Lanka comprehensively by seven wickets and enter the finals of the Commonwealth Bank Series.
Sri Lanka beat themselves in their must-win game. In what was a pathetic batting display, Sri Lanka skid from a comfortable 1 for 72 to a perilous 7 for 93, blowing their chances on a flat deck.
A composed fifty from Chamara Kapugedera avoided a debacle, but couldn’t take away the one-sided nature of the contest.
Chasing 180 was never going to be too much of a challenge for India, especially when Sachin Tendulkar (63) started to cut loose.
Gautam Gambhir added a polished 64 to what’s been a fantastic series for him, leaving Yuvraj Singh (35) to add the final touches on a comprehensive win.
Sri Lanka will now travel to Melbourne for their final league match against Australia, but that will now be only of academic interest.
Earlier, India skipper MS Dhoni had won the toss and elected to field first at Bellerive Oval, Hobart.
Sri Lanka made a mess of a flat batting track in Hobart, limping to 179 in a game they had to win to stay alive in the CB Series.
India’s seamers swung the ball around in overcast conditions. Praveen Kumar triggered the collapse with three wickets in as many overs before Ishant Sharma pierced the soft underbelly with a deep incision.
Kumar Sangakkara’s poor shot selection opened up the floodgates and the rest seemed more intent to catch the next flight out of Hobart. On a flat pitch, they saw their chances of entering the final all but go up in smoke.
Sri Lanka were cruising along when Sanath Jayasuriya and Sangakkara were out in the middle. The duo had shrugged off the early dismissal of Dilruwan Perera, castled by a peach of a straightener from Ishant, by cashing in on a slightly wayward new-ball spell.
Everything changed when Praveen Kumar was introduced in the attack. Playing only his third ODI, he showed why he’s so highly rated in the domestic circuit.
Sangakkara paid the price for taking Kumar too lightly: he walked down the track and poked recklessly, only to see Mahendra Singh Dhoni pull off a fine catch diving to his left.
Kumar was ecstatic after his first international wicket but he was to nab two more in quick time. Mahela Jayawardene was undone by a sharp catch by Rohit Sharma at point before Chamara Silva wafted at one that shaped away to watch Dhoni pull off another fine take.
Jayasuriya, watching all the mayhem from the other end, thought it was best to break the shackles. Faced with a short ball from Irfan Pathan he attempted a high-risk pull, kicking the ground as the ball ballooned into Dhoni’s gloves.
Ishant returned to remove Tillakaratne Dilshan, with a peach that swung into his pads, before tempting Chaminda Vaas with an indiscreet pull.
Kapugedera found an able ally in Lasith Malinga and the duo went about playing time rather than over ambitious shots. The pair went without a boundary for 12.2 overs before Kapugedera began to gradually open out.
The innings might have ended early if Sachin Tendulkar hadn’t dropped Malinga on 8. But Muttiah Muralitharan also showed some gumption towards the end as Kapugedera completed a well-deserved 57, his highest score.
Praveen Kumar returned to clean up Murali before Harbhajan snapped up his only wicket to keep Sri Lanka down to 179.
Top scorer for Sri Lanka- Chamara Kapugedera (57 runs)
Top wicket taker for India- Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar (4 wickets each)
Top run getter for India- Gautam Gambhir (64 runs). (ANI)

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