India beat Sri Lanka, stay afloat in triangular series

February 19th, 2008 - 8:29 pm ICT by admin  


Adelaide, Feb 19 (IANS) Yuvraj Singh roared back into form with a half-century and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni made an unbeaten 50 to help India beat Sri Lanka by two wickets and stay in contention for the finals of the Commonwealth Bank Triangular Series here Tuesday. Yuvraj, who has been struggling for run since landing in Australia in December, hammered 76 off 70 balls (10×4s, 1×6) and Dhoni (68 balls) to help India successfully chase Sri Lanka’s 238 for six wickets in 50 overs, containing Kumar Sangakkara’s superb 128 (155 balls, 12×4s).

India finished with 239 for eight in 49.1 overs and won with five balls to spare. Ishant Sharma remained unbeaten on nought.

With this win, India have taken their points tally to 12 from six matches and remain at the second spot. Australia lead the table with 17 from five matches and Sri Lanka have six from five games.

While another win will cement India’s place in the best-of-three finals, to be played next month, Sri Lanka in a must-win situation now and they need to beat Australia Friday to stay in contention.

India started the chase disastrously, losing Sachin Tendulkar to Lasith Malinga for nought. And by the time total reached 35, Robin Uthappa (10) and Gautam Gambhir (15) were also back in the dressing room.

Uthappa, given a chance up the order, was run out by Sanath Jayasuriya while in-form Gambhir was caught by wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara off Ishara Amerasinghe.

Yuvraj and Rohit Sharma (24, 36 balls, 1×4) then pout a halt to the regaular falling of wickets by scoring 64 off 11.4 overs for the fourth wicket.

Left-handed Yuvraj was associated in another 50-plus partnership, this time with Dhoni. They scored 59 off 9.4 overs for the fifth wicket to take the total to 158 for five.

Dhoni, playing with a lot of responsibility, also raised 58 for the sixth wicket with Irfan Pathan (31, 41, 4×4s).

There was a minor score when Pathan got out as India lost three wickets for 20, leaving Dhoni and Ishant to ensure victory. Dhoni aptly scored a brace off pacer Farveez Maharoof to seal the win and punched the air.

Earlier, Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and batted. Sangakkara steadied the innings after Sri Lanka lost openers Sanath Jayasuriya (0) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (4).

Wicket-keeper Sangakkara and Jayawardene (71, 99 balls, 4×4s, 1×6) played stellar knocks to help their side post a challenging total.

It was widely-criticised pacer Munaf Patel who gave India the first breakthrough, picking up Dilshan in the first over and then effecting a run out in the third over to get rid of danger man Jayasuriya.

Munaf has been at the receiving end of former captain Sunil Gavaskar’s scathing remarks for his lethargic body language in India’s last match against Australia here Sunday. But Tuesday, Munaf struck back with a good performance as he turned out to be the most disciplined bowler with one for 38 from nine overs including two maidens.

Munaf’s efforts reduced Sri Lanka to six for two by the third over but Sangakkara and Jayawardene stitched a valuable 153-run third-wicket partnership to bail their team out of the precarious situation.

The duo rebuilt the Sri Lankan innings with grit and determination and never gave a chance to the Indian bowlers, who looked like a tiring lot in their futile search for wickets.

The partnership was broken when Sangakkara’s drive clipped the fingers of Praveen Kumar and ricocheted onto the stumps, finding Jayawardene short on 71. The previous wicket had fallen the same way - Sangakkara’s straight shot glanced off Munaf’s hand and a half-asleep Jayasuriya was dawdling out of his crease.

Sangakkara was eventually caught on the boundary for 128 by Kumar off Irfan Pathan.

Chamara Silva chipped in with a valuable 21 in the end but it was Sangakkara’s day as he posted his first one-day century after a year.

India’s next match is against Australia Sunday.

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