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Sri Lanka registers an easy win

K.C. Vijaya Kumar

Hat-trick for Maharoof; Sangakkara-Jayawardene combine delights


Sangakkara and Jayawardene added 104 for the third wicket

Farveez Mahroof scalped five wickets


— PHOTO: AFP

THE TERMINATOR:Farveez Maharoof ran through the lower order to dismiss India for a modest 209 which the Lankan batsmen surpassed quite comfortably.

Dambulla: A match solely meant to gain psychological brownie points ahead of Thursday's final, smoothly slipped into Sri Lanka's grasp at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium.

Sri Lanka defeated India by seven wickets in the last league match of the Asia Cup here on Tuesday after man-of-the-match Farveez Maharoof's hat-trick and the batting exploits of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene ensured that the local fans left the venue in high spirits.

Chasing India's 209, Sri Lanka breezed ahead at 211 for three in 37.3 overs. The pursuit of triumph proved easy for the defending champion after openers Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan chipped in cameos and the experienced duo of skipper Sangakkara (73, 82b, 10x4) and Jayawardene (53 n.o., 67b, 5x4, 1x6) carved the Indians all over the park.

Elegant

Sangakkara and Jayawardene bruised M.S. Dhoni's men with their patented elegance in a 104-run third-wicket partnership off 109 deliveries. Sangakkara drove Zaheer Khan, who had earlier scalped Dilshan and Tharanga, while Jayawardene danced down and distracted Pragyan Ojha. Nearing victory, Sangakkara holed out in the deep and

Jayawardene slog-swept Ravindra Jadeja for the winning four.

Earlier the Indian innings suffered a free-fall while the lone moments of stability occurred when the Gautam Gambhir-Dinesh Karthik duo and Rohit Sharma-Dhoni combine were at the crease.

India did enjoy a stable start through Gambhir and Karthik after Sangakkara elected to field. Karthik, by now immune to stepping off the plane on short-notice as a replacement for an injured Virender Sehwag, started briskly.

The low-returns of 100 from four innings in the Tri-Series at Zimbabwe were forgotten as Karthik (40) flicked and drove Maharoof and cut Angelo Mathews with precision. At the other end, Gambhir indulged in a few pulls off Chanaka Welegedara.

Gambhir and Karthik added 58 runs in 11.2 overs before a moment of airborne brilliance broke the alliance. Gambhir tried to swat Mathews and the shot was cut in mid-flight as Suraj Randiv dived to his right and froze the ball.

Failing to build on starts

After Gambhir's dismissal, India slumped as the batsmen failed to build on their starts. Left arm spinner Rangana Herath spun one across as Karthik fenced and while Sangakkara appealed vociferously for a caught behind, Billy Bowden waited for eternity before raising his crooked finger. The batting woes suddenly multiplied as Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina failed.

At 110 for four, India needed a partnership and Rohit Sharma along with his captain Dhoni, complied with a 79-run fifth-wicket partnership. Rohit (69 73b, 7x4), who scored two hundreds recently in Zimbabwe, lofted Randiv and flicked Herath while Dhoni (41) stole his singles and clouted the fours. The match changed drastically when at 189 for four, India lost four wickets on the same score starting with Dhoni's run out as he failed to beat Kapugedara's throw.

Three-in-a-row

Maharoof then drew in the applause as in his ninth over, the 39th of the innings, he trapped Ravindra Jadeja, forced Praveen Kumar to chop one on to his stumps and was soon running away with delight as Zaheer poked and Sangakkara effected a diving catch.

The hat-trick was secured and there was a premonition of its fulfilment even before Zaheer took strike as the bails fell in the breeze.

Maharoof then returned for his tenth over and castled an ambitious Ashok Dinda while Rohit succumbed while testing Mahela Jayawardene's arm in the deep as India ended up with a modest total that never challenged the host.

India and Sri Lanka experimented with their respective playing elevens and in the end Sangakkara's men displayed added grit and they will now walk out against India in the final on Thursday, with added confidence.

India: G. Gambhir c Randiv b Mathews 23 ( 31b, 4x3), D. Karthik c Sangakkara b Herath 40 ( 43b, 6x4), V. Kohli c Sangakkara b Maharoof 10 ( 14b, 1x4), Rohit Sharma (run out) 69 ( 73b, 7x4), S. Raina lbw b Herath 18 ( 23b, 1x6), M.S. Dhoni (run out) 41 ( 53b, 6x4), R. Jadeja lbw b Maharoof 0 ( 1b), Praveen Kumar b Maharoof 0 ( 1b), Zaheer Khan c Sangakkara b Maharoof 0 ( 1b), A. Dinda b Maharoof 2 ( 12b), P. Ojha (not out) 0 ( 3b), Extras (lb-3, w-3): 6. Total (in 42.3 overs): 209.

Fall of wickets: 1-58, 2-75, 3-77, 4-110, 5-189, 6-189, 7-189, 8-189, 9-195.

Sri Lanka bowling: Welegedara 7.3-0-42-0, Maharoof 10-1-42-5, Mathews 6-0-37-1, Herath 7-0-31-2, Randiv 9-1-40-0, Kandamby 3-0-14-0.

Sri Lanka: U. Tharanga c Dhoni b Zaheer 38 ( 46b, 6x4), T. Dilshan c Jadeja b Zaheer 24 ( 16b, 4x4, 1x6), K. Sangakkara c Zaheer b Praveen 73 ( 82b, 10x4), M. Jayawardene (not out) 53 ( 67b, 5x4, 1x6), T. Kandamby (not out) 7 ( 14b). Extras (b-2, lb-11, w-3): 16. Total (for three wickets in 37.3 overs): 211.

Fall of wickets: 1-38, 2-80, 3-184.

India bowling: Praveen 8-2-30-1, Zaheer 7-1-42-2, Dinda 5-1-39-0, Ojha 10-0-49-0, Jadeja 6.3-0-29-0, Rohit 1-0-9-0 .

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