Gritty India steal a thriller

India fended off a spirited challenge by Sri Lanka to snatch a thrilling 15-run victory in the second one-dayer and take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series held in Colombo, reports Nilankur Das.

cricket Updated: Jan 31, 2009 23:38 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times

Two unnecessary run outs at crucial moments, a Zaheer Khan delivery hitting the stumps without dislodging the bails and a glaringly wrong leg-before decision conspired to almost pave the way for Sri Lanka to draw level. But the Premadasa Stadium wicket's history of assisting the new ball bowlers once the lights come on in full intensity restored the advantage India had gained by opting to bat first and tackling the spin threat from Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis with aplomb yet again.

Praveen Kumar, who replaced an injured Munaf Patel, bowled exceedingly well mixing up his slower balls to keep the batsmen guessing. His first spell of eight overs went for 18 runs and had the dangerous Kumar Sangakkara edging to slip. Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma did as expected and after 16 overs when Pragyan Ojha was introduced, Sri Lanka were 59 for three.

Skipper Mahela Jayawardene returned to form with a half-century and with good support at other end from Thilina Kandamby kept Sri Lanka sniffing. But excellent bowling by Khan and Sharma again during the batting Powerplay kept India's unbeaten run going. They did concede 48 runs in the five overs but with wickets in hand and Kandamby looking in ominous touch, it could have been worse. He ran out of partners in the end.

Virender Sehwag, looking in great touch especially when finding the backward point fence with regularity, was run out going for a third. Again when Yusuf Pathan was looking to get a partnership going with Dhoni --- India took the batting Powerplay for an extended flourish in the final 10 overs --- Pathan was run out. Dhoni walked after a snick down leg side and just 14 runs came off the five overs.

The most unsettling was Yuvraj Singh's dismissal. India were 180 for four after 33 when umpire Gamini Silva gave him leg-before. Replays showed a thick inside-edge. Yuvraj, who was looking to make the area between long-on and mid-wicket his own, stood there surprised and held his bat out before starting the long walk back. In Dambulla where Silva was the television umpire, he had denied Nuwan Kulasekara when he took Gambhir's return catch. On Saturday, it seemed, Kulasekara was compensated.

Ishant hit
In the 24th over play was held up for five minutes after a stone thrown from the stands hit Ishant who was fielding at deep fine-leg. Security personnel were deployed in front of the stand and play resumed.

In another development, the organisers announced that the fifth ODI would be held at the Premadasa instead of the SSC on February 8 due to security reasons. It would be a day match.

First Published: Jan 31, 2009 22:48 IST