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Gambhir, Dhoni sparkle in yet another damp squib at the Gabba

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The second match of the CB Series has also been abandoned due to rain at Brisbane. And like in the first match, this one between India and Sri Lanka had all the thrilling action. It was a good outing for Sri Lanka, but a much better one for their opponents – India as they showed the character of bouncing back from a bad situation. The spectators came out to see a great match between these two wonderful teams, but the rain didn’t allow the contest to be completed. Yet, most of the fans would cherish what they had seen in the 50 overs of cricket which had a scintillating hundred from the stylish Gautam Gambhir.

In this second match of the Tri Series, it was once again India winning the toss and batting first. This time, the wicket was a much better one for batting and the decision from MS Dhoni looked obvious. India brought back Yuvraj Singh in for Manoj Tiwary. The Sri Lankan bowlers were put on the backfoot by a solid opening stand between Tendulkar and Sehwag. The quick outfield gave lot of value to each and every shot that was played. The pitch played good which left Vaas struggling to keep the pair quiet. Sri Lanka were lucky to cut short the opening stand to 68 as Tendulkar with a forceful backfoot shot in the 15th over played onto his stumps off a Malinga delivery. Sachin made 35 in 52 balls with a couple of fours and in the process had a walk past 16000 ODI runs! In the 18th over, Virender Sehwag too departed to the pavilion to miss out on a bigger score. Sehwag was caught down the legside by Sangakkara after he tried to pull rookie medium pacer Ishara Amerasinghe, who picked up his maiden wicket playing his 2nd ODI. Sehwag fell for a brisk 33 (from 39 balls) which had 2 fours and a majestic six over long on off the poor old Chaminda.

Sri Lanka came back strongly after removing the two openers. Once the powerplays were done and dusted, Mahela didn’t waste any time in bringing on his ace bowler – Muttiah Muralitharan. And the Magician struck with his third ball itself when he had Yuvraj (2 from 11) enticed in a false cover drive to be caught at slip. In the penultimate ball of that over, Murali got lucky with a caught behind decision from Rudi Koertzen which robbed Rohit Sharma off the opportunity to showcase his batting abilities to the world. It was the doosra from Murali that Rohit (0 from 2 balls) didn’t pick but it was his bat hitting the pad that had made the noise for Sangakkara and Koertzen to get convinced about a faint edge. India with that collapsed from 68 for no loss to 83 for 4 in the space of over 38 balls! Sri Lanka meant business as they went all out to try and bundle out the Indians cheaply.

India were in deep trouble but they were pulled out of the woods by a magnificent partnership between no. 3 Gautam Gambhir and the Skipper MS Dhoni. Sri Lanka lacked the fire power in their pace department and had to depend heavily on Murali to make further inroads. Murali failed in getting further breakthroughs as Gautam Gambhir played him beautifully with his quick footwork which often forced the offie to bowl short. India consolidated through this responsible yet busy partnership to get to a nice foundation for the slogs. And in the last 10 overs, both Gambhir and Dhoni started to free their arms to make a complete mockery of the Lankan bowling attack which fell apart. More than 100 runs came in the last 10 overs as India posted a good looking 267 for 4. Gambhir had completed his third century in style in the final over from Lasith Malinga with two consecutive boundaries. A trademark pull shot from the southpaw got him his second ODI hundred against SL in just 99 balls! Gambhir took 71 balls to get to a fifty, but his second fifty took just the 28 balls. It was no brutal force in Gambhir’s game, but the good clean strikes in the gaps whether along the grass or in the air that had got him the 10 fours and the six over long off Malinga.

Gambhir remained unbeaten with 102 from 101 balls while his Skipper played an equally well paced knock getting 88 in 95 balls with 5 fours and a six. From 83 for 4 to 267 for 4, it was one of the greatest partnerships ever for India! Sri Lanka had their opportunity to get Gambhir’s wicket cheaply but for a dropped catch when he was on 11 from Sanga behind the stumps off Ishara Amerasinghe. Chaminda Vaas took a pounding as he went for 72 in his wicketless 10 overs. Murali was dominated by Gambhir to be taken for 51 in his 10. The stand out bowler turned out to be Ishara Amerasinghe with 1 for 30 including two maidens in his quota of 10 overs!

Rain put an end to the match during the supper break giving no space for the Sri Lankan chase. Sri Lanka wouldn’t complain as their target could have been very stiff once Duckworth/Lewis came into play. The next match of this promising series is between the hosts and the Lankans on the 8th at Sydney which is also hugely threatened by rain!

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