India reach final after a thumping win
by Rohit Sakunia

Ground:Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur
Scorecard:India v Sri Lanka
Player:KC Sangakkara, HKSR Kaluhalamulla, Z Khan, A Mishra, G Gambhir, V Kohli
Event:Idea Cup 2009/10

DateLine: 10th January 2010


India continued their domination over the Lankan side as they beat them by eight wickets to storm into the finals. It was a comprehensive performance by the Indian outfit which was determined to compensate its previous match loss to the Lankans. Chasing a below target score of 214 India did not break much sweat as they made light work of the target.


Kumar Sangakkara won the toss and surprisingly elected to bat first. For starters, his decision backfired as Ashish Nehra's replacement Sudeep Tyagi removed in-form Upul Tharanga in the very first over, even before the batsman had opened his account. But post this Dilshan took control in his hands and for the next 20-odd minutes he blew all Indian bowlers to all parts of the ground.


Out of the 33 he scored, 32 came off eight hits to the fence. None of the bowlers looked like even unsettling him a bit before Zaheer Khan picked him up as he tried to cover drive, only being able to edge one to Gambhir at gully. It was from here on that Indian fielding, which till recent standards was one of the huge let downs of this highly efficient team took over and converted probably all opportunities that were created. Though there were no spectacular catches taken or any breathtaking run-outs done, still half chances were taken and easy ones were not dropped. This helped the team cause as India stalled a murderous start from Tillakaratne Dilshan to reduce Lankans to 84 for 6, post which it was always a struggle for the Emerald Islanders.


It was Zaheer who kind of restored sanity in the middle for the Indians. When he was brought on in the sixth over, Dilshan had already hit seven boundaries in his 29. Zaheer also did not escape the same treatment as the left-armer was pulled for a four second ball. He struck back as the next ball took a thick edge and Gautam Gambhir took a nice one at gully. This probably inspired the leader of the Indian seam attack no ends. He started to bowl to a plan which yielded immediate dividends. He kept bowling accurately and gave nothing to drive, with a short cover in place. Finally Mahela Jayawardene succumbed, driving a ball straight to Virat Kohli as he hung on to a sharp chance.


Then it was Sreesanth's turn to redeem himself. The right-armer whose first two overs had gone for 16 because of a murderous Dilshan taking toll of almost everything found Thilan Samaraweera plumb in front, trying to walk across to a straight delivery. Sri Lanka from a position of huge strength had slipped to a very crumbling state at 62 for 4 in 10.2 overs. This though wasn't the end of their hara-kiri by any chance. Soon Thilina Kandamby was run out, done in by a smart piece of work from Dinesh Karthik. Thissara Perera, who played the villain for India in the last game, found himself in action a little too early. Zaheer for obvious reasons, irate on him, did not leave anything for surprise. The left-handed all-rounder was bounced and verbalised by the left-arm seamer. He tried to target Amit Mishra at the other end, but Yuvraj Singh pulled of a diving catch at wide long-on to end Perera's knock.


Sangakkara though kept hitting runs from the other end. A down the track boundary to Sreesanth was his response to Perera's wicket. He and Suraj Randiv then stitched a partnership of 59 runs which took the Lankan total closer to 150. The skipper then played a loose shot, off a Yuvraj delivery and was caught by Raina at mid-wicket. Randiv then was joined by Thilan Thushara and they added 59 for the eighth wicket. It was during this partnership that Randiv scaled his first fifty. The shortage of wickets though came to haunt the Lankans as when the time came to press on and they opted for the powerplay in the 44th over, the tail couldn't mop up much, and Sri Lanka were bundled out by Zaheer and Mishra, with four overs still to go.


Chasing the lowest total of the tournament Dinesh Karthik and Gautam Gambhir did not waste much time as the duo set about doing their task with controlled aggression. Karthik started the deluge by playing a streaky boundary through slips and slowly the pair settled into their groove. Karthik was the aggressor of the two as he was relishing one of those rare chances he gets in the playing eleven as he made the Lankan side chase the leather. The opening pair added 89 in 11.3 overs forcing Sangakkara to delay his bowling powerplay so that he could put some lid over the scoring. Karthik finally fell just two short of a well-deserved half-century when he nicked one from Thushara to Sangakkara.


If Sangakkara thought that it would slow down the Indian charge it did not as Gambhir was joined by Kohli at the crease and the two Delhi mates never looked in any sort of discomfort. Gambhir meanwhile survived two drop chances on 41 and 43 when Dilshan and Tharanga could not hold onto the chances. The pair did not have to go into the overdrive mode as the required run-rate was just under three and a half. Gambhir got to his fifty in 67 balls as he began to make amends for the low scores in the earlier matches and just when a century beckoned the southpaw he chipped one lamely to Thushara at mid-on to be dismissed for a well-paced 71. Kohli meanwhile continued in his aggressive manner as he reached his fifty in 58 balls and then the aggressive right-hander closed out the match in a brace of boundaries as India romped home by eight wickets.


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