For a change, India pray for an Oz win
The Indian team's tail had been on fire for most of the last 12 weeks they have spent in Australia. But they finally shot up like a rocket on Tuesday in what could have turned out to be their last game of a disastrous tour. Amol Karhadkar reports.india Updated: Feb 29, 2012 23:00 IST
The Indian team's tail had been on fire for most of the last 12 weeks they have spent in Australia. But they finally shot up like a rocket on Tuesday in what could have turned out to be their last game of a disastrous tour.
Virat Kohli's unbeaten 133 at the Bellerive Oval not only helped chase the target against Sri Lanka in a record 36.4 overs but it has also kept India alive in the CB Series.
However, despite earning the vital bonus point, India are far from assured of sealing a best-of-three finals face-off against Australia.
If Sri Lanka bounce back and defeat Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday, India's tour will be over and they will get a weeklong break before the Asia Cup starts in Dhaka on March 11.
Though the India squad moved to Brisbane on Wednesday - either to prepare for Sunday's first final or board a flight back home on Saturday - all eyes will be on MCG.
It will be mighty difficult for Sri Lanka to beat Australia on a lively surface like the MCG. But going by their record against the hosts, Lanka fans will back their team to make it to the finals. After all, Mahela Jayawardene & Co. has beaten Australia twice in three encounters in the CB Series so far.
Moreover, Sri Lanka had also surprised Australia 2-1 in their three-match ODI series Down Under in 2010. Even if past results don't matter much, their last three face-offs have given enough indications that Australia have struggled to get on top of Sri Lanka.
If Angelo Mathews gave them a scare in the first match, falling short by a whisker in a bid to clinch a miraculous come-from-behind victory, a tight bowling effort followed by the batting exploits of Jayawardene and Dinesh Chandimal turned the tide in Sri Lanka's favour in the next two matches.
No wonder then that Jayawardene, in his first assignment after returning as captain, backed his teammates to come good on Friday despite the shocking performance with the ball.
"Pretty confident (of beating Australia), we have beaten them twice in this tournament. But it's not going to be easy. We know that. It is in our control. If we are hungry enough to be in the final, we will turn up and do the job. Simple as that," Jayawardene said on Tuesday night.
"They are in form as well. Still there is a lot for our guys, a lot of motivation to do that, knowing you have to win a game of cricket to be in the final. We have to see whether we have the passion and the quality to do that."