Tuesday, February 14, 2012

India tie with SL in last ball thriller

Drama At The Adelaide Oval As India-SL Match Ends In Tie

India needed nine runs to win off the last over of the match bowled by Lasith Malinga.

MS Dhoni shakes hands with Sri Lankan team members after the match ended in a draw. (Getty Images)

For the second consecutive match, India captain MS Dhoni held centre stage in the last over at the Adelaide Oval, but this time he couldn't quite get his team over the line as the fifth match of the Commonwealth Bank Series against Sri Lanka today ended in a tie.

Chasing a target of 237 to record their third win on the trot, India needed nine runs off the last over bowled by Lasith Malinga, but Sri Lanka missed the chance to dismiss Dhoni in the fourth ball of the over when the bowler fluffed a simple run out chance; and the skipper then took three runs off the last delivery to leave Sri Lanka still searching for their first win in the tournament. There was some drama even after the last delivery as the umpires checked if the batsmen had ran one short, but replays showed they hadn't and the match ended in a tie. As an aside, Malinga had a five ball over in India's 30th over of the innings, and it is anyone's guess if the result would have been different had the error been spotted.

India stuck to the rotational policy with Sachin Tendulkar coming in for Virender Sehwag, who had a back spasm; while Irfan Pathan made another comeback as he replaced Zaheer Khan, who had a problem with his right calf. Tendulkar hit two boundaries in his 24-ball 15, but never looked comfortable in the middle, and he was the first Indian batsman to be dismissed when he edged an angled delivery around the off stump from Nuwan Kulasekara to Kumar Sangakkara behind the stumps. Tendulkar's failure is bound to be blamed on the rotational policy by its detractors, who feel the rhythm of the batsmen is disrupted.

Virat Kohli has been the in-form batsman for India in the last few matches, was solid in defence and just when he looked to be getting himself in, he played across the line and was trapped plumb in front by Thisara Perera.  The rotational policy is apparently in place to ensure Rohit Sharma gets an extended run in the one-day team, and the talented youngster was content in keeping the scoreboard ticking over as he rotated the strike well with Gautam Gambhir. Rohit's innings was cut short by a direct throw from Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene at backward point after Gambhir called him for a quick single as India slipped to 94 for 3 in the 22nd over. And, when Suresh Raina played a loose shot to be caught behind off Malinga's bowling, India was very much on the backfoot.

But, Gambhir and Dhoni, who had been taking indirect swipes at each other over the last couple of days, forged a 60-run partnership for the fifth wicket to get India's run chase back on track. Gambhir had batted beautifully for his 106-ball 91, which contained only six boundaries, but he played shots all over the ground and he also kept the scoreboard ticking over by taking the ones and twos. He was also not troubled by any of the Sri Lankan bowlers, but missed out on a century for the second consecutive match when he was involved in a horrible mix-up with Dhoni. India's captain took off for a non-existent single after playing a delivery towards mid-on before changing his mind but it was too late for Gambhir to beat Kulasekara's direct throw.

Dhoni, who became the first Indian wicket-keeper batsman to play in 200 ODIs and only the fifth in the world, carried on his form from the last match against Australia, striking the ball well in his 69-ball 58*, but he was also involved in two more run outs - that of Pathan and Vinay Kumar. Malinga and Perera took two wickets each, while four Indian batsmen were run out.Dinesh Chandimal top-scored for Sri Lanka at the Adelaide Oval. (Getty Images)

Earlier, Sri Lanka had a horror start when Upul Tharanga's horrendous run in the CB Series continued when he edged the second ball of the match to Dhoni behind the stumps with Vinay Kumar being the successful bowler. Tillakaratne Dilshan adopted the safety first approach but hit a massive six of Kumar before his innings was cut short by Irfan who had him caught behind by Dhoni. Irfan looked fit on his comeback and also managed to get a fair amount of away swing, especially to the left-handers. His first spell had figures of 7-0-23-1, and he finished with 1-38 off nine overs.

Dinesh Chandimal and Kumar Sangakkara then got Sri Lanka's innings back on track with some sensible batting as they put away the bad deliveries but kept the scoreboard ticking over by rotating the strike. Sangakkara though had a brain fade when he tried to laucnh R Ashwin over mid-on, but only succeeded in getting a leading edge to the tossed-up delivery to Gambhir at point.

Chandimal played another attractive knock as he added to his growing reputation as Sri Lanka's next big batting talent as he played shots all over the ground and added 94 runs for the fourth wicket with Jayawardene. The Sri Lanka skipper had suffered a slump in form since the South Africa tour, but here he looked to back at his sublime best. 

Sri Lanka's innings though went off track in the batting powerplay where they scored only 18 runs and lost three wickets, including that of Jayawardene and Chandimal. Jayawardene (43) was trapped plumb in front by Vinay, while Chandimal (81 off 91 balls) was run out when he and Angelo Mathews attempted a risky single. Perera was the third wicket to fall in the batting powerplay when he was caught by Kohli off Ashwin's bowling.

India were on top of Sri Lanka in the last 10 overs of the latter's innings as they conceded only 50 runs to restrict Jayawardene's team to 236 for 9, which was at least 30 runs short of the total they appeared to be on course to get when Chandimal and Jayawardene were going strong. Kumar (3-46) was the most successful of India's bowlers; while Umesh Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja conceded 51 runs in nine overs and 58 runs in 10 overs respectively.

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