Asia XI powered by a strong batting performance have clinched the Afro-Asian Cup by winning the second ODI at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai by 31 runs. The batting efforts were complemented by superb bowling from Dilhara Fernando. On a track that little help for the bowlers, the two sides put on more than 300 runs each so it was a brilliant effort from Dilhara as he got rewarded for bending his back and getting some life from the track. He was also the Man of the Match for his 4 for 36 in 10 overs, his career best.
The coin rolled in the favour of Mahela Jayawardene and there was no hesitation in deciding to bat first and launch a big total. Jayasuriya fell early but the Africans had to contain another danger man Virender Sehwag. They failed in doing so and Viru made a smashing 52 from 38 with 8 fours and a six. Dhoni was promoted up the order to continue the carnage. He did his job at a steady rate with Sourav Ganguly at one end playing the anchor. The Indian pair put on 57 runs for the third wicket before Dhoni yorked himself off Albie Morkel to be out for 33 from 38 with two fours and two huge sixes. The rest of the batsmen carried on the solid platform to get the total to 337 for 7. Sourav Ganguly was the top scorer with 88 which were quite slow coming in 112 balls with 9 fours and a six. Skipper Mahela Jayawardene continued his good form with a 40-ball 45 that had 4 fours and a six. It was Mohammad Yousuf who had stolen the show with 51 coming in 44 balls with 3 fours and two sixes. Yuvraj Singh gave the perfect finish with 30 from just 13 balls with 3 fours and two sixes.
Like in the first game, AB de Villiers fell early and fell once again to Asif, this time around it was a fabulous catch behind the stumps from MS Dhoni. There was a problem though for the Asians as Zaheer Khan returned back to the pavilion in between his over because of a niggle. Surprisingly Mahela Jayawardene took on the bowling responsibilities and with that the pressure was released. Asif for once had an off day but for his defence the wicket didn’t have any margin of error. Zimbabwe’s Vusumuzi Sibanda came up with a few sparkling shots but was soon bounced out by the pacy Dilhara Fernando in the 13th over. In the same over, Justin Kemp, the African Skipper was cleaned up for a duck by a fast and furious yorker which beat his intentions of going for a cover drive. At 80 for 3, Mark Boucher joined Boeta Dippenaar and the two took the game to some distance where the Africans can give a fight.
Boeta Dippenaar did his part in scoring 67 from 72 balls with 9 fours before he holed out in the deep off Yuvraj Singh’s left arm spin. Along with Boucher, he took Africa to 159 for 4 after 27 overs. The stage was set for last match centurion Shaun Pollock to work up his magic along with Boucher. The pair took off very well to put pressure on the Asians but it was once again Dilhara coming to his team’s rescue foxing Boucher with a split finger slower ball. Boucher fell after making 73 from 71 balls with 4 fours and two sixes. When Shaun Pollock’s attempted big shot off Sehwag landed into Asif’s hands in the deep, the game was as good as over. Pollock came up with 35 from 39 with 4 fours.
Towards the end, the Africans managed to get past the 300-run mark to salvage some pride. They were bowled out for 306 with one more delivery left in the innings. One of the highlights of the final stages of the match was a breathtaking catch from substitute Harbhajan Singh who had taken Chigumbura’s catch with one leg in the air and outside the rope and then getting back into the playing area safely! The third and final ODI of this series is tomorrow at this same venue.