Zeecric Bureau/Pratik Dogra
Mumbai: Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s boys created history when they thrashed Sri Lanka by an innings and 24 runs to not only clinch a comprehensive 2-0 series victory, but also annexed to the top rank on the ICC Test rankings from South Africa.
The clinical performance at Brabourne was an apt summarization of Indian team’s journey over past 24 months or so which included series victories in England and New Zealand after long gaps.
It was a perfect team effort revolving around mammoth efforts from few individuals. After Harbhajan Singh’s 4-wicket haul in the first innings helped India restrict Sri Lanka to 393 runs, Virender Sehwag exploded with a ferociousity of a nuclear bomb on the visitors, knocking the stuffing out of them with a whirlwind 293 on the second day.
Dhoni hit a punishing century on the third day after Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar had struck half-centuries, leaving Zaheer Khan to provide the final knock-out punch.
Zaheer was the man of the moment today, bagging 5 wickets in the second innings as India wiped off Sri Lanka’s tail in less than 8 overs today
Resuming the day at 274/6, still needing 59 runs to make India bat again, Sri Lanka’s slim hopes of starving off a defeat rested on the shoulders of their captain Kumara Sangakkara. Leading from the front, he had admirably defied the odds yesterday to crack a fine century.
However he failed to replicate his efforts on day 5 when he fell in the first over of the day to Zaheer Khan as India took a giant step towards toppling South Africa from top of the ICC Test rankings.
On 133 overnight, Sangakkara added just 4 runs to his tally before he was caught behind by Mahendra Singh Dhoni off a perfect leg-cutter.
Sangakkara’s 137 came off 261 balls, studded with 20 fours and a six.
Using the short ball to good effect, Zaheer then invoked Rangana Herath (3 runs) for a pull shot, which the tail-ender scooped to Pragyan Ojha at mid-wicket.
Herath was Zaheer’s fourth wicket of the innings as hosts looked for an early finish to the days play.
Nuwan Kulasekara soon became his fifth victim when former stabbed at a delivery that had an extra lift, straight to VVS Laxman as second slip.
Kulasekara’s resistence lasted 68 balls and yielded 19 runs.
Harbhajan Singh then had Muttiah Muralidaran stumped to herald wild celebrations in the Indian camp.
First Published: Sunday, December 06, 2009, 23:25