Colombo: Guided by stellar show from Sachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh, Team India defeated Lanka by 46-runs in the tri-series final to lift the Compaq Cup and break its finals jinx. Chasing an improbable total of 319/5 set by India, Sri Lanka were bowled out for 273 in 46.4 overs.
To start with, Jayasuriya met fire with fire, setting a cheering Colombo crowd in frenzy with fours and sixes raining under floodlights at Colombo. The opening duo of Dilshan and Jayasuriya brought Sri Lanka’s fifty in just 6.2 overs.
The duo, who was dealing in boundaries, took to the opposition as luck favoured the brave Jayasuriya when Virat Kohli dropped a sitter when explosive Lankan was yet to cross twenty run mark.
Finally, it was Harbhajan Singh who brought the breakthrough as he clean bowled dangerous looking Dilshan for 42 of 29 balls. The wicket instantly saw Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in ecstasy as he hugged around The Turbanator.
Harbhajan soon struck again, getting rid off Mahela Jayawardene for 1 with a brilliantly disguised delivery and completed a simple catch pegging Lanka back to 76/2 from 64/0 in just nine overs.
From their on, India gave Lanka a taste of their own dossier as MSD used gentle spin of Raina, Pathan, along Yuvraj Singh to squeeze in some quick overs. Both Pathan and Yuvraj proved skippers faith right and were rewarded with a wicket each.
Sanath Jayasuriya (36), Thushara (15), and Angelo Mathews (14) wickets meant Lanka’s chase was faltering under the pressure of the final. But skipper Sangakkara and Thilina Kandamby kept the scorecard ticking and gave some hope to the cheering home crowd.
The match looked to go down to wire until a bizarre hit wicket did in the Sri Lanka captain on his personal score of 33. Looking to punch a high full toss from Indian pacer RP Singh, bat slipped out of Sangakkara’s hand and tossed up, only to land on the stumps in a most bizarre of dismissals. The dismissal meant Lanka scorecard reading 182/6 in 27.3 overs, leaving a more than daunting task ahead.
But, Thilina Kandamby had different plans as kept ticking the scorecard after India fielders gave him as many as three chances with Yusuf Pathan being the prime culprit when he dropped a sitter. Kapugedera who assisted Kandamby until the 43rd over, as Lanka came close to the striking range of Indian total, was brilliantly outsmarted by Raina as Dhoni clipped the bails.
The Lankan chase did not end at that point as their was another twist to the epic tale which unfolded at Premdasa Stadium. Kandamby who was batting beautifully until then, ensured that all was not lost for Sri Lanka as Indian’s started to feel the pressure.
Towards the end it took Harbhajan Singh’s two balls to change the whole picture. Harbhajan fooled Kandamby with a flat one when the south-paw had scored 66 valuable runs in one of the most valuable wickets of the tournament.
In the end Malinga (0) and Mendis (7) fell prey to the guile of Harbhajan as Sri Lanka fell short by 46 runs to hand India a significant series win.
Ton up Tendulkar helps India reach 319/5
Earlier, on a glorious sunny after noon at Colombo when entire world questioned India’s one night stand at the top, Tendulkar scripted a fairytale century to give a foundation from where they looked like creating a history in emerald islands. At the end of the first innings India set an imposing total of 319/5, leaving Lanka a tough chase.
In memories reminiscent to the golden old days of Tendulkar-Ganguly, way back in early 2000, India started confidently with Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar after Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss.
Dravid who is back in reckoning after a hiatus of over a year, was supremely confident and showed glimpses of his mastery with a technique which could envy some of the brightest of youngsters in the country. The duo who have 763 ODIs between them put forth a 95-run opening wicket stand at the jam packed Premdasa Stadium in Colombo, setting a strong foundation for India.
India did not look back from that point even after Dravid’s soft dismissal, courtesy the little genius himself. On the other hand Sanath Jayasuriya provided Sri Lanka with the all important breakthrough after Dravid failed to read one and handed a simple catch to Dilshan at short extra cover, after making 39 valuable runs at the top.
MS Dhoni, who came in at the fall of Rahul Dravid’s wicket continued the good work along with Sachin Tendulkar as India pulverized the Sri Lankan bowlers.
But, at one end it was the little master who was stealing the show. Sachin absorbed the sappy conditions to show the world some of his vintage strokes reminding the world of his sheer ability to play according to the situation. Square cuts, cover drives, straight punches and delicate leg glance were all back in flourish as Tendulkar moved on from 92nd ODI century to 44th ton.
Promoting himself up the order, skipper Dhoni ensured that he gave good company to his senior partner for over a 100 run second wicket partnership. Dhoni brought his 32nd ODI fifty before being caught at 56 (62 Balls) of the bowling of Malinga.
Tendulkar scored a phenomenal innings of 138 runs (133 balls) before being wrong footed while trying a reverse sweep of Lanka’s mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis. Tendulkar hit Mendis out of the park for a huge six before being dismissed. By the Tendulkar departed the damage was done as Yuvraj Singh picked up the tempo and came back with another stellar ODI fifty. The pump fists were back as Yuvraj ensured that Pathan (0) and Raina’s (8) quick dismissal did not hamper India’s cause.
In the end, men in blue would be pretty happy with the score line crossing well over 300-run mark leaving Sri Lanka with a daunting task, in which they failed.