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Sunday, Sep 25, 2022
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Coca-Cola Cup

Sri Lanka Win Cliffhanger

The Sri Lankans held their nerves to emerge winners by six runs

Sri Lanka Win Cliffhanger
Sri Lanka Win Cliffhanger
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Sri Lanka defeated India by six runs in the tension racked Premadasa International Stadium tonight in a game that could have swung either way and was only settled in the final nerve jangling over of the game. This was one-day cricket at it's gripping best, with fortunes see-sawing throughout the day. In the end, the Sri Lankan spinners held their nerves as the Indian batsmen, needing 222 for victory, stumbled in the last five overs of the game.

At the end of the 45th over, bowled by Sanath Jayasuriya, India needed 30 runs from 30 balls with four wickets remaining. Rahul Dravid, who finished unbeaten on 49, was batting with Virender Shewag and the pair looked to be cruising towards the target, effortlessly working the spinners into the gaps.

Kumar Dharmasena, who handsomely repaid the national selectors for their faith with an emotionless performance, bowled the 46th and conceded five runs. India though still looked to have the game in the bag. Jayasuriya called his senior players to his side. They discussed their options in animated fashion before agreeing that the time had come to throw their final match winning card: Muttiah Muralitharan.

It was to be his final over and fourth spell of the day and it swung the initiative back towards the home team. Rahul Dravid hit a single off the first delivery and Shewag scrambled two runs with a clump to wide long on. Out of the blue, however, Muralitharan conjured up two consecutive dot balls. Shewag panicked, went for a boundary, and was well caught by Suresh Perera at long off.

Only three runs were scored off the over and India now needed 22 runs of the final three overs, but Dharmasena conceded just five in the 48th over and Jayasuriya likewise in the penultimate, leaving 12 off the final one bowled by Dharmsena.

The off spinner allrounder conceded just five as the India failed to find the boundary and the terraces erupted with uncontained joy, as the Sri Lankan players converged in celebration and the Indian batsmen walked slowly to their dressing room knowing full well that they had been the masters of their own fate.

India had started their run chase disastrously, slipping to 30 for three in the ninth over, thanks to a double strike by Suresh Perera,­ Yuvraj Singh caught at square leg, Amay Khurasia trapped lbw and the soft dismissal of Harbhajan Singh, who had been bravely promoted in the order to make maximum use of the early fielding restrictions.

When Laxman was caught behind off Dilhara Fernando India were 71 for four and Rahul Dravid joined the Indian captain Sourav Ganguly at the wicket. Ganguly had decided to play in the middle order to counteract the Sri Lankan spinners and the plan looked to be working, as the duo added 80 runs for the fifth wicket.

Russel Arnold broke the partnership when Ganguly top edged a sweep to Jayasuriya at short leg. India were 151 for five in the 38th over and Sri Lanka were back in the game. Nevertheless, India still looked in control until those desperate last overs.

Earlier in the game the Sri Lankans had struggled to 221 after winning the toss. They started well, scoring 48 for the first wicket, before losing three wickets for 12 runs. Avishka Gunawardene, dropped twice during his 63, then added 73 for the fourth wicket with Romesh Kaluwitharana.

The second collapse of the innings soon reduced the home side to 155 for seven before a 49 run stand between allrounders Dharmasena and Perera rescued the innings and showed clearly the value of bowlers that can bat.

With Muralitharan carving the final ball of the innings over cover for four Sri Lanka would have been delighted with their final total, but knew that the bowlers had to perform. Thankfully for them the fast bowlers made initial inroads and the spin bowlers held their nerve at the death. India now play against New Zealand on Thursday and Sri Lanka take on New Zealand on Wednesday. Both games will be played at Premadasa International Stadium.

http://www.CricInfo.com

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