Sri Lanka win Indian Oil Cup

Sri Lanka were victorious in the Indian Oil Cup final with a hard fought win against an Indian team that were yet to beat them in the tournament so far. Going into the final, there were no doubt thoughts of India’s recent string of losses in triangular series finals going through the minds of all Indian cricket fans, and unfortunately for them it continued in this match. SL captain Marvin Atapattu won the toss, an elected to bat in the hope that with champion opening batsman Sanath Jayasuriya back, they could set India a large target which they would struggle to chase with Chaminda Vaas back for SL as well. However with India coming into the game with 5 bowlers, something many fans have been yearning for a long time, bowling first may not have worried them as much as in previous times.

Jayasuriya started off in aggressive fashion against the Indian opening bowlers, particularly Irfan Pathan and passed 10 000 ODI runs whilst he was at it, pulling Pathan to square leg to achieve the milestone. He was the second batsman to pass that amazing mark this tournament, with Ganguly achieving it earlier in the series. However some intelligent captaincy by Rahul Dravid paid off and managed to temporarily stop the SL onslaught, when he made a bowling change, bringing on Ashish Nehra. It paid dividends with Nehra getting through Atapattu bowling him, his first of 6 wickets for the innings. Lokuhettige was sent in at first drop, but didn’t last long either as the mighty Nehra picked up his 2nd with a top ball catching him on the pads right in front. Not long after this, Jayasuriya flashed at a wide Pathan delivery catching the edge, but Mahendra Dhoni reacted late, and dropped the catch, one that would prove costly for India.

Star keeper/batsman Kumar Sangakkara was next, but he too fell to Nehra after a 19 run partnership with Jayasuriya, and suddenly SL were 3-67 after 13.1 overs. Enter Mahela Jayawardene. India’s nemesis the last time these teams met, Jayawardene batted beautifully alongside Jayasuriya putting on a 55 run partnership, and SL looked well on top, particularly when 3 boundaries were taken off a Kumble over. However in the 26th over, Jayasuriya clipped a ball to fine leg and took on the fielder, Harbhajan Singh, and went for 2. This proved fatal as he fell short due to a great throw from the Indian spinner landing right over the stumps allowing Dhoni to do the rest. India were back in the match at 4-122 after 25.5 as Jayasuriya walked back to the pavilion with a terrific 67 runs off 77 balls including a whopping 9 boundaries.

Russel Arnold stepped in next, and India’s worries escalated as he put on another great partnership for SL alongside Jayawardene. Both batsman played the Indian spinners excellently, delicately dabbing and cutting balls allowing the scoreboard to keep ticking. Despite India having 5 bowlers in the team for the first time in God knows when, Dravid resorted to bowling Sehwag for a couple of overs, thus was the damage that SL were doing to the Indian bowlers. Sehwag didn’t last long however, as he went for 14 off his 2 overs including a brilliant late cut from Jayawardene which went to the fence.

Eventually Jayawardene fell, again to Ashish Nehra, as he played a tired shot to Kaif at short fine leg ending a brilliant innings of 83 runs off 97 balls. The damage had already been done though, with SL at 5-247 with 5 overs remaining, and SL managed to add 34 more runs with a nice cameo from Vaas scoring 18 off just 9 balls. SL ended with 281/9, with Nehra the only Indian bowler to get the wickets other than run outs. A staggering fact. However his figures were not economical either, as his 6 wickets went for 59 runs, thanks to Vaas’ mammoth hitting. That being said he was clearly the pick of the Indian bowlers.

A target of 282 seemed pretty much out of reach for India, with the SL bowlers knowing their own pitches like they knew the back of their hand. However if that was a fact, know one informed Virender Sehwag who came out blasting the SL bowlers all over the park. Having had a bad tournament, Sehwag had clearly come good at the right time as he scored 48 runs of just 22 balls. This included an amazing 26 runs hit off one over, Lokuhettige’s first. 4,4,6,4,4,4. CRAZY!

The ever so disciplined Chaminda Vaas didn’t fall to the pressure, with the runs flowing at the other end, and he managed to get Sehwag out forcing him to play on to his stumps with a ball swinging in. But Sehwag had done his job, giving India a perfect platform to chase this intimidating target, as India were 62-1 after just 6.2 overs!!! The captain, Dravid, came to the crease next to bat alongside former captain, Ganguly who sat at the other end whilst Sehwag let loose. Both players batted conservatively, perhaps too conservatively as India’s run rate slowed. But Sehwag’s knock was so quick, India had the chance to do this and still have their run rate at around 6.

A crucial wicket came at the right time for SL with Ganguly falling LBW once the first SL spinner came to bowl, Dilshan. A worrying fact for India throughout the series has been their handling of spinners, something they are known to dominate. Ganguly continued that worry. Again, India needed Rahul Dravid to guide them to victory, along with Yuvraj Singh who came in at 2nd drop. Whilst Yuvraj wasn’t looking as good as he did with his century in the previous game, both players managed to put on an 84 run partnership, though it came in 110+ balls. The spinners once again made the break through for SL though, with Yuvraj falling to Upul Chandana mistiming a simple sweep shot. India were now 186-3, needing 96 off 89 balls, and the game was in the balance. That was until Rahul Dravid was unfortunately run out due to a mix-up with Mohammad Kaif. His innings of 69 off 99 was gallant, but just wasn’t enough. India were now 4-205, and it was up to Kaif and an unproven Dhoni to get India across the line. It wasn’t to be, as Dhoni fell to Chandana plumb LBW, and it was academic from there as Kaif’s knock of 31 from 36 balls wasn’t enough. India’s innings ended at 263/9, 19 runs short of their target. The pick of the bowlers was most definitely Chaminda Vaas who picked up the crucial wicket of Sehwag when he looked like he was blistering India to victory, and also Mohammad Kaif, the last Indian batsman at the crase, sealing the match.

Sri Lankan fans rejoiced as Indian fans pondered where Indian ODI cricket was to go from here, with another lost final, and to add salt in the wounds India did not defeat Sri Lanka once in this Indian Oil Cup. Improvement is most definitely needed. Man of the Match and Man of the Series was given to Mahela Jayawardene, and there was never really any doubt with either award as he played two fantastic knocks to win Sri Lanka the game on two occasions. After a dry patch, it seemed the elegant batsman was back to his best.

Sri Lanka win Indian Oil Cup Trophy Final by 19 runs

Sri Lanka: 9/281 (50 overs)
DPMD Jayawardene 83 (97), ST Jayasuriya 67 (77)
Nehra 6/59 (10), Harbhajan Singh 0/40 (10)
India 9/263 (50 overs)
R Dravid 69 (99), V Sehwag 48 (22)
WPUJC Vaas 2/38 (10), UDU Chandana 2/38 (9.5)

CricketWeb Man Of The Match:
DPMD Jayawardene 83 (97)

CricketWeb Man Of The Series:
DPMD Jayawardene 230 runs for the series at an average of 57.5

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