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Monday, April 15
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Clinical India clinch Asia Cup

Mangalore Today News Network

Dambulla, June 24: India made a formidable 268 for six after electing to bat, and their 81-run victory was a mere formality once Nehra produced a quality spell upfront to shake Sri Lanka, who were skittled out for 187. The result also dashed the home side’s hopes of a hat-trick of wins in the sub-continent’s premier tournament.

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India’s Ashish Nehra celebrates with Suresh Raina after dismissing Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara on Thursday. APChasing 269 under lights could offer some tough moments and with the ball jagging around considerably the Lankan batsmen found the going tough. After Praveen Kumar and Zaheer Khan removed openers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga respectively the momentum has shifted considerably in India’s favour.

But the home side still had two glittering shot-makers in their line-up -- skipper Kumar Sangakkara and his predecessor Mahela Jayawardene. They crack Lankan duo began to consolidate in their typical fashion -- quickly taken ones and twos interspersed with some well-timed hits to the fence.

Just as the alliance began to bloom into bigger proportions, Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni summoned Nehra, who changed the course of the match in five overs of remorseless fury and spite. The left-arm paceman induced an edge from Jayawardene for Dhoni to complete a simple catch behind the stumps.

Matthews departed two balls later as an injudicious prod at an angled delivery produced disastrous results. After the dismissal of two of their best batsmen much was depended on Sangakkara to marshal the middle-order around him. But the Lankan dreams suffered a huge blow when Nehra produced an effort-ball to jettison the Lankan skipper.

Nehra dug in one short and the southpaw’s shabby attempt to a pull the delivery away ended in the hands of Zaheer as the Lankans slipped to 51 for five, with only eight runs coming in the bowling Power Plays at the cost of two wickets. Nehra’s first spell read an impressive 5-0-15-3. Taking Lanka back into the match from such a precarious position was out of the means for late-order batsmen and a 53-run alliance for the sixth-wicket between Thilina Kandamby and Farvez Maharoof only added a touch of respectability to the total.

Earlier, the Indians started their innings quite solidly with Dinesh Kaarthick (66, 84b, 9x4) and Gautam Gambhir tackling the Lankan bowlers with confidence. Gambhir’s gorgeous straight drive off Lasith Malinga promised more than the eventual 15 in his 100th one-day match. But a run-out spoiled his ambitions of a glittering outing on the special occasion.

However, Kaarthick continued to pick runs with ease and hardly any Lankan bowler troubled him. Along with equally comfortable looking Virat Kohli, the Tamil Nadu batsman realised 62 runs in a little over 12.1 overs. Tentative to begin with, Kaarthick grew in confidence as the innings progressed, taking some excellent shots out of shelf.

But as the partnership moved towards attaining a bigger shape, Lasith Malinga showed exit signals for Kohli. Dhoni promoted himself to number four and the Jharkhand batsman played a typically sensible innings to milk 46 runs with Kaarthick. However, at this juncture Kaarthick returned to hut while attempting to send a full toss from Kandamby over the square leg, giving the part-time leg-spinner his maiden wicket in one-dayers.

Dhoni too did not last long as a top-edged cut off Kandamby was taken by a tumbling Nuwan Kulasekara. With Suresh Raina, who fell to peach of a yorker from Malinga, and Rohit Sharma failing to make much impact India could not get to the much-desired 300-mark. But the total was enough for a determined Indian bunch to emerge victorious.


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