India win after Zaheer’s five

On the day after both named their World Cup squads, India levelled their series against Sri Lanka with a five wicket victory.

It was Zaheer Khan’s maiden five-wicket haul in ODI cricket that helped to set up the win. As Sri Lanka batted first, he made three strikes within his first three overs, to leave Sri Lanka reeling at 6-3. A sharp bouncer beat Jayasuriya, and he lobbed it up towards Sourav Ganguly who took a fine catch. Three balls later, Upul Tharanga was caught on the crease and given lbw. He soon added the prize scalp of Kumar Sangakkara, bowled by one that kept a little low.

The experienced heads of Mahela Jayawardene and Marvan Atapattu then added 76 for the fourth wicket. Atapattu counterattacked towards the end of Khan’s spell, while Jayawardene was more circumspect, building for a big score. Both fell in consecutive overs though, to Munaf Patel and Harbhajan Singh, and Sri Lanka were in trouble again at 93-5.

Celebrating his inclusion in the World Cup squad, Russel Arnold struck a crucial unbeaten 66 to give Sri Lanka a defendable score. Nudging and nurdling as he does best, he helped them to a score of 230. He was supported by Tillakaratne Dilshan, who contributed 42 to a stand of 89 between the pair.

With 250 looking possible, India did well to restrict them. Harbhajan accounted for Dilshan, while Zaheer prevented the lower order from adding too many, dismissing Farveez Maharoof and Malinga Bandara.

230 was still a decent enough score and Sri Lanka had definitely made a match of it. India’s chase was to prove more difficult than it might have done, as Sri Lanka reduced them to 94-4. Opening again, Virender Sehwag was first to go, looping Dilhara Fernando to point. Sachin Tendulkar soon followed for a single, chopping on off Nuwan Kulasekara.

Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh prevented a top-order collapse by adding 48, but both fell in fairly quick succession. That left a situation very similar to the game at Rajkot, which India lost by five runs. Rahul Dravid though, made sure it ended differently today, along with Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

They played with extremely little risk, pushing the pall around the park. They ran well between the wickets, and punished the bad ball. One bonus for India was that they would not have to face the pace of Lasith Malinga; he was rested for this game. Boundaries were rare, Dhoni went 49 balls without finding the fence, but they weren’t needed. Both brought up their half centuries, and struck a couple of boundaries as the target dwindled. Dravid was run out with four to go, but the job was done.

Sri Lanka 230-8
Russel Arnold 66*, Marvan Atapattu 42, Tillakaratne Dilshan 42
Zaheer Khan 5-42, Harbhajan Singh 2-37

India 233-5
Mahendra Singh Dhoni 67*, Rahul Dravid 66, Sourav Ganguly 48
Dilhara Fernando 2-43

India win by five wickets

Cricket Web Man of the Match : Zaheer Khan

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Alex Crampton