Virender Sehwag powers India to revitalising win
After the bowling unit had done their job by bowling out the hosts for 170 runs, Virender Sehwag powered India to a comfortable victory. Amol Karhadkar reports.cricket Updated: Aug 17, 2010 02:06 IST
One of the key instructions given to the Indian team after their 200-run mauling by New Zealand was to take a three-day break. A lot was made of this decision to go into sleep mode during the build-up to the World Cup.
But Monday justified the think-tank's decision as India cruised to a six-wicket victory over Sri Lanka to open their account in the tri-series.
After the bowling unit had done their job by bowling out the hosts for 170 runs, Virender Sehwag powered India to a comfortable victory. More importantly, Sehwag stepped up the gas at the right time to give India the vital bonus point. He fully deserved a century, but with scores tied and Sehwag on 99, offspinner Suraj Randiv bowled a no-ball.
Though India overhauled the target of 171 in the 35th over, it wasn't as easy as the scoreboard suggests. The target, though 20 to 30 runs short of the par score at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, could have proved to be a stiff task if India lost early wickets.
And for the first hour, it certainly looked that way as Dinesh Karthik, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma perished within a space of 12 balls for the addition of just three runs. Though Sharma was a touch unlucky since the ball appeared to have deviated on to his pads off his edge, his decision to play across early on in his innings went against him.
At that stage, India were 32 for 3 in the 11th over and the bonus point would have been the last thing on the minds of Sehwag and Suresh Raina.
But the duo, who had a three-day trip back home in between the matches, focussed on resurrecting the innings for the next 10 overs. Just as Raina seemed to finding his feet with a short-arm jab off Dilhara Fernando that raced to the point fence, he pulled the next ball straight to Upul Tharanga at backward square leg.
With India still 80 runs adrift, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Sehwag ensured no further hiccups. With scores level, Sehwag needed a single to score his 13th ODI century. Though he danced down the wicket and carted the ball over long-off, he was denied a ton since Randiv had overstepped while delivering the ball, and the match ended as soon as the no-ball occurred, even before the delivery reached Sehwag.
Earlier in the afternoon, once Praveen Kumar disturbed Upul Tharanga's woodwork off the very first ball of the match, the Indian bowlers never looked back and kept striking at regular intervals.
Ashish Nehra, recovering from a buttock problem just in time for the match, saw off the danger man Sangakkara in his second over.
Praveen then trapped Mahela Jayawardene in front of the wickets to leave Sri Lanka reeling at 23 for 3 in the seventh over.
Had it not been for Nuwan Kulasekara and Randiv's 39-run stand for the 8th wicket, Sri Lanka would have found it difficult to cross the 150-run mark.