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Rain plays spoilsport in finals; replay on Monday

The India-Sri Lanka final was abandoned after a heavy downpour at the Premadasa stadium ensured no play with just two overs into Indian innings. The entire match will be replayed on Monday.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2002 23:14 IST
Sunil Narula
Sunil Narula

Rain had stayed away from the Champions Trophy for the entire duration of the tournament. But the heavens opened up on Sunday night, right in the middle of the final between India and Sri Lanka at the Premadasa Stadium.

Batting first, Sri Lanka set a target of 245 for the Indians. When the Indian chase began, Virender Sehwag came out and smashed three exquisite boundaries in the second over of the innings sent down by Pulasathi Gunaratne. The signs of an Indian victory were all there. But a heavy shower forced the game to be abandoned. The final will be played all over again -- from scratch -- on Monday, the reserve day.

A full house cheered the home team when they batted first and set a modest target on a difficult wicket. Javagal Srinath's return to one-day internationals was not at all spectacular but the Indian slow bowlers still managed to restrict Sri Lanka to 244 for five after Sanath Jayasuriya won the toss and -- as was quite predictable -- chose to bat first on the spin-friendly wicket.

Srinath was hammered for 55 runs from his eight wicketless overs as fast bowlers continued to struggle on this slow wicket. Spinners Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag had to check the flow of runs and the two did a fine job for Indian captain Sourav Ganguly after he had chosen to omit Anil Kumble from the starting XI.

It was a decision that could have proved costly if Sehwag had not fired. The off-spinner conceded only 32 runs from his ten overs. But the stand-out performer for India was Harbhajan, who had figures of three for 27 from his quota of overs.

After seeing the last match between Australia and Sri Lanka one would have imagined India had realised the slow nature of the track.

But they chose to go in with three pace bowlers all of whom proved to be utterly ineffective.

Sachin Tendulkar had to send down six overs that cost 36 runs but if India had played Kumble here the Sri Lankan total could have been curtailed further.

Srinath appeared rusty after joining the Indian team here straight from Leicestershire. He was driven to the ropes by openers Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu, who took a liking to his pace as the ball came on to the bat quite nicely.

Jayasuriya top-scored with 74 and one-drop Kumar Sangakarra also compiled a half-century. Atapattu had earlier played an attractive knock of 34 before Harbhajan accounted for him in his opening over.

Sehwag also bowled an economical spell and should have had the wicket of Aravinda de Silva. But the veteran Sri Lankan batsmen was dropped twice in two balls -- first by Mohd Kaif and then by Sachin Tendulkar -- on a day when the Indian fielding was not very impressive.

Sachin then dropped Mahela Jayawardene in the covers off the bowling of Harbhajan but later took a tumbling return catch to dismiss Russell Arnold.

Ajit Agarkar, who was preferred over Kumble, did not have a very productive time with his medium-pace bowling. He persisted in pitching the ball short and Jayasuriya had little trouble in dealing with him on the dead wicket.

The Indians tried a new opening combination on Sunday night when Dinesh Mongia came out to open the innings with Sehwag. The logic behind the move was to enable the Indian captain -- who's a good player of spin bowling -- to come down the order and deal with the Sri Lankan tweakers.

After India's move of using three pace bowlers did not work well on Sunday, there might be further changes in the playing XI on Monday.

The most likely being the return of Kumble. Srinath's utility on this slow track will also have to be re-assessed.

But having called the senior pace bowler all the way from England especially for the final, the team management might be compelled to play him yet again.

The batting order might have to be reshuffled again if Sri Lanka set a stiff target on Monday. But Ganguly will be praying hard that he wins the toss and gets to bat first. That will solve a lot of problems for the Indian team.

Sri Lanka: Sanath Jayasuriya (capt), Marvan Atapattu, Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda de Silva, Mahela Jayawarde, Russel Arnold, K Dharmasena, M Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas, Pulasthi Gunaratne and Dilhara Fernando.

India: Sourav Ganguly (capt) Virender Sehwag, Dinesh Mongia, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Ajit Agarkar, Harbhajan Singh, Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan.

Umpires: Steve Bucknor and David Shepherd.

TV Umpire: Daryl Harper.

Match Referee: Clive Lloyd.


First Published: Sep 29, 2002 13:42 IST