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Sri Lanka outplay fancy India to clinch Idea Cup

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Nuwan Kulasekara was the Man of the Match in the Idea Cup FinalSri Lanka has lifted the Idea Cup 2010 with the fancy Indian batting line up biting the dust when it mattered most. Barring Suresh Raina, the rest of the Indian batsmen failed to deliver the goods to pave way for a comfortable victory for the Lankan Lions. Raina stood tall with a glorious century which could atleast save the Final from being a one-sided contest. India posted a below par target of 246 and made the Lankans toil hard to victory.

The biggest factor of the match – ‘Toss’ rolled in favour of Kumar Sangakkara and the decision was an obvious one that is to avoid bowling in the evening under the dew. India made a couple of changes with Dinesh Karthik, Amit Mishra and Sudeep Tyagi making way for the return of Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Ashish Nehra, Sri Lanka decided to bank on the experience of Nuwan Kulasekara instead of the energetic Suranga Lakmal.

India had a disastrous start when consistent opener Gautam Gambhir (0) dragged his flick onto the stumps to get bowled round the sticks off the thigh pad in just the third ball of the match. Kulasekara was the lucky wicket taker. In the 2nd over, Virat Kohli played a lazy cut shot to give a sharp catch to Samaraweera in the slips off left armer Chanaka Welegedara. And in the 4th over, India was given a deadly blow when Yuvraj Singh too played a loose shot away from his body off the same bowler to get caught in the slips as well to make it 16 for 3.

In the 9th over, India slipped into a miserable position with Skipper MS Dhoni (14) edging his on the rise drive to the keeper off Kulasekara. Virender Sehwag (42 from 27 balls with 7 fours), who was smashing the ball around for boundaries fell to the same bowler in the 11th over in a bid to play an upper cut wide of the Keeper. India crashed to 60 for 5 and the Final was heading towards a disappointing finish in quicktime.

Young left handers Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja had other ideas though. The pitch all this while did nothing to assist the bowlers, it was only the horrendous shot selection proving to be the downfall for India. Raina and Jadeja eased their way in the middle running very briskly in the middle to keep the scoreboard moving. The left handers went onto add 106 runs in the next 24 overs before Jadeja (38 from 64 balls) got lbw to a skidding drifter from Tillakaratne Dilshan in the second ball of the drinks break! Jadeja was unlucky as he got a tiny inside edge but deserved to be out as he was playing for the turn with slow footwork while it was a changed ball that skidded through with the arm.

After Jadeja’s exit, Raina got helped by two wonderful partnerships from Harbhajan Singh (11) and Zaheer Khan (16) to not only help him reach a 3rd ODI century but also to take India closer to 250. Harbhajan got out lbw in an attempted sweep off Suraj Randiv while Zaheer smacked Kulasekara into the hands of extra covers in the 45th over.

Suresh Raina (106 from 115 balls with 10 fours and a six), who could have taken India to 280 fell at the wrong time in the 46th over picking up the wrong length for a slog across the line. The left hander was instead cleaned up by a straight yorker from Welegedara. India got bowled out in 48.2 overs when Sreesanth funnily decided to remove his spectacles and bat blindly, the very first ball he faced got cleaned up by a yorker from Thisara Perera.

Nuwan Kulasekara bowled honestly well for his 10-0-48-4 and left armer Chanaka Welegedara with his 3 for 53 in 10 overs proved again that he has a happy knack of taking wickets.

Sri Lanka needing 246 to win lost their first wicket in the third ball of their innings as well with Upul Tharanga slashing Nehra to second slip where Kohli held onto a very sharp catch. Nehra who was getting the ball to nicely swing into the right hander broke down in the third over with a groin injury to leave the park! After that blow, it was all Sri Lanka with Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara easing Sri Lanka forward. Just after the drinks break, Yuvraj Singh broke the second wicket partnership of 93 when Dilshan (49 from 54 balls with 8 fours) bottom edged his cut to MS Dhoni.

In the 20th over, Harbhajan Singh brought India strongly back into the game when he forced Kumar Sangakkara (55 from 51 balls with 8 fours) to edge a turning and bouncing off break to the slip. The match was evenly poised with Sri Lanka at 109 for 3. Thilan Samaraweera, the next man defied India of any further breaks with a solid partnership of 48. Samaraweera (27 from 41 balls) departed in the 32nd over when he tried to play yet another cute late cut behind square but this time dragging an arm ball from Jadeja onto his woodwork. The next breakthrough for India came in the 39th over when Harbhajan Singh struck in his penultimate over by pinning Kandamby (18 from 26 balls) back in the crease and trapping him lbw with a drifter.

Sri Lanka were reduced to 189 for 5 with Mahela Jayawarde, the big fish still in the centre. Mahela got able support from a confident Suraj Randiv and the pair repaired Sri Lanka towards a comfortable victory. Randiv scored a neat 17 from 30 balls before he got run out trying to steal a single from Jadeja at mid wicket. Pressure had just started to build slightly because of a few dot balls. When Randiv got out, SL needed 19 from 20 balls. That was a cakewalk considering that Sri Lanka now had the lusty hitting Thisara Perera with the cool Mahela Jayawardene. The pair got the remaining part of the target easily with 9 balls to spare. Jayawardene stayed right till the end with an unbeaten 71 from 81 balls with 5 fours.

For India, Harbhajan Singh was the most penetrative bowler but could end up with just two wickets. The Indian bowlers were helped by the very late arrival of the dew. The Man of the Match was given to Nuwan Kulasekara and the Player of the Series went to Kumar Sangakkara.

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