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India at their best when chips are down

When Sri Lanka started their first preparatory session ahead of Saturday's final at the Dambulla Stadium on Thursday evening, Ross Taylor and Co were halfway through to the international airport near Colombo on their way back home.

cricket Updated: Aug 26, 2010 23:40 IST
Amol Karhadkar

When Sri Lanka started their first preparatory session ahead of Saturday's final at the Dambulla Stadium on Thursday evening, Ross Taylor and Co were halfway through to the international airport near Colombo on their way back home.

Taylor must have been wondering as to what made his team, full of late bloomers, wither against India in the knockout match on Wednesday.

As much as the Kiwis withered under pressure, the Indians rose to the challenge by putting up their best performance of the tournament. Despite suffering two huge losses, India outdid the Kiwis to set up a final clash against the hosts.

What was heartening was the determination on the youngsters' faces as they entered the field to defend 223. Unlike the previous matches, the body language showed they were desperate to end on top.

"It always happens with the team. Whenever it's a do-or-die match, the intensity level is high," vice-captain Virender Sehwag said after setting up the victory.

"Every game is important, but when it's a knockout match, it becomes even more important. So, we just try and give it our optimum effort. If the result is in our favour it feels nice, otherwise we can at least be satisfied that we gave our 100 percent."

Probably, the simplest of techniques has worked for the bunch led by MS Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten. That's why the team has an envious record in Sri Lanka over the last couple of years.

Dhoni has not finished on the losing side in the four series - bilateral or otherwise - that he has captained in Sri Lanka.

Though Sehwag highlighted "overall contribution" as the major reason for tasting success in the Emerald Isles, he did start a war of words ahead of the big battle by rating India as the better team even in Sri Lankan conditions.