India seal final berth 81-run victory over Sri Lanka

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (right) took four wickets inside the first 10 overs to dent Sri Lanka’s runs chase © AFP

By Shrikant Shankar

Port of Spain: Jul 9, 2013

India comprehensively beat Sri Lanka by 81 runs (via Duckworth/Lewis method) in the sixth and final match of the Caribbean tri-series on Tuesday at the Queen’s Park Oval to book their place in the final. India needed to restrict Sri Lanka to 167 runs or less from 26 overs to qualify for the final on July 11, 2013. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 96 in 24.4 overs chasing a revised target of 178 due to a long rain break. India had reached a total of 119 for three in 29 overs while batting first before rain interrupted play.

Hosts West Indies helplessly watched as India booked a date with Sri Lanka in the final to be played at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad on Thursday. At the end of the group phase India topped the standings with 10 points while Sri Lanka finished in second position with nine points. West Indies also had nine points, but were behind Sri Lanka in the overall net run rate.

The Sri Lankan chase did not begin on a positive note as the Indians came firing all cylinders. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the chief wrecker. Upul Tharanga fished at a length delivery outside off stump and edged it to Suresh Raina at second slip. Then off the very next ball Kumar Sangakkara was given out leg before as he missed Bhuvneshwar’s in-swinging delivery. Replays showed that the ball had pitched outside leg stump and would have gone over the woodwork.

Before the Sri Lankan innings could recover, Bhuvneshwar struck yet again. Mahela Jayawardene opened the face of the bat to guide a short ball over third-man, but hit it straight to Murali Vijay, who took a comfortable catch in front of the boundary. The Sri Lankan innings was left in tatters as Lahiru Thirimanne drove a length ball from Bhuvneshwar straight to India captain Virat Kohli at covers. Sri Lanka were 31 for four in only the ninth over.

Then Ravindra Jadeja came into the act and picked up a couple of wickets. First Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews edged a turning delivery to wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik. Then Dinesh Chandimal came down the track and tried a wild slog, only to miss the line of the ball and duly got stumped. Chandimal was the only batsman who seemed to read the wicket properly though. He departed for 26 off 54 balls.

After losing more than half the side, it was just a formality for Kohli’s men to wrap up the match. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ishant Sharma also got in amongst the wickets. Ashwin yorked Jeevan Mendis to get him bowled. Ishant got the wickets of Rangana Herath and Dilhara Lokuhettige. Umesh Yadav finished the game by dismissing Laisth Malinga, who mishit a lofted drive to Jadeja at mid-on.

Earlier, Mathews won the toss and sent India into bat. Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma gave India a cautious start on a wicket, which had uneven bounce. Once Dhawan was sent back into the dressing room, Kohli put together a 49-run partnership with Rohit. The duo had to fight it out on a difficult wicket with the Sri Lankan bowlers right on top of them.

Once Kohli departed for 31 off 52 balls, Dinesh Karthik joined Rohit in the middle. He opened his scoring with a splendid six over midwicket. He pulled the short ball over the ropes. Soon after Karthik’s wicket had fallen, the heavens opened up and play was stopped.

India were at 119 for three in 29 overs when rain played spoilsport. The delay was significant and India could not resume their innings. The total, however, proved to be more than enough for Sri Lanka to get.

Brief Scores:

India 119 for 3 in 29 overs (Rohit Sharma 48*, Virat Kohli 31; Rangana Herath 2 for 32) beat Sri Lanka 96 in 24.4 overs (Dinesh Chandimal 26; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4 for 8, Ravindra Jadeja 2 for 17, Ishant Sharma 2 for 17) by 81 runs (D/L method).

Man of the Match: Bhuvneshwar Kumar

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(Shrikant Shankar previously worked with Mobile ESPN, where he did audio commentary for many matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20. He has also written many articles involving other sports for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)