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Dhoni earns India a tie

Lightening almost struck twice. But 'almost' meant India ended up losing (or winning, depending on your perspective) two points as a result of a tied match against Sri Lanka in the CB Series. Amol Karhadkar reports. Pics | The story so far | See graphic

india Updated: Feb 15, 2012 01:55 IST
Amol Karhadkar

Lightening almost struck twice. But 'almost' meant India ended up losing (or winning, depending on your perspective) two points as a result of a tied match against Sri Lanka in the CB Series. It still required yet another heroic effort from skipper MS Dhoni to avert defeat.

Besides the venue, there were many similarities between Tuesday's match and the one against Australia on Sunday. The two points were enough to put India, who have played an extra game than others, at the top of the points table.

Like Sunday, India managed to pull things back when the Sri Lankan middle order looked set for a big total. R Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Irfan Pathan, included after Zaheer Khan strained his right calf, helped restrict Sri Lanka to 236 for nine.

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And while chasing, when Gautam Gambhir and Dhoni looked to see the side through with relative comfort, a bad call coupled with Gambhir not diving meant the opener was caught short of the crease.

Another ton gone
Not only did it deprive Gambhir of a deserving century for the second time in a row, it also left India in a spot of bother at 178 for five in the 41st over.

The situation went from bad to worse three overs later when Ravindra Jadeja was brilliantly caught by Mahela Jayawardene at covers off Thisara Perera. With 53 required off 39 balls, the game seemed to be slipping away from India.

Dhoni had no option but to take a calculated risk in the 46th over, with India needing 46 off five overs. While the captain cleared the long-on boundary with relative ease off Perera, R Ashwin played a magnificent drive over covers to fetch a bonus boundary. With 28 required off the last three overs, two of which were of Lasith Malinga, India had no option but to target the one who bowled the penultimate over.

Fight to finish
So, when Angelo Mathews ran in to bowl the 49th over when 24 were required off 12 balls, India had to go after him.

After conceding three singles and bowling a wide off the first three balls, Mathews bowled a dolly that was hoicked over the mid-wicket by Irfan Pathan.

To top it all, it was a full-toss above the waist height. That not only gave an extra run but also an extra ball to overhaul the target. It also sort of evened out the five-ball 30th over bowled by Malinga due to the umpire's error. Dhoni made the most of it by whacking one through mid-wicket for four, having run Pathan out a ball earlier.

However, all of Sri Lanka's good work in the field was undone in the last over when they missed two run out chances.

With four required off the last ball, Dhoni pulled out an extraordinary shot by hitting Malinga over covers. Although Sachitra Senanayake stopped it at the boundary, the batsmen ran three.

Lanka's consolation, they managed to open their account.