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Sri Lanka wins tight contest at Nagpur

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Sri Lanka won the second ODI at Nagpur by 3 wickets chasing a target of 302 on another batting beauty. Dilshan cracked back to back centuries to set up the victory and Angelo Mathews ensured that the Lankans didn’t choke like in the first ODI at Rajkot. India Skipper MS Dhoni’s ton went in vain but provided a superb contest for the full house.

India having won the toss and electing to bat first were off to a dull start losing Sehwag and one down Gambhir early. Sehwag, the last match hero was out to a false cut shot and Gambhir got run out after a bad call for a single to have India on the backfoot at 19 for 2 in the 5th over. The hosts could get back in the contest in sometime with Virat Kohli batting very well under the guidance of Sachin Tendulkar. But it was the Master who made a fatal mistake to throw his wicket away in the 17th over. Tendulkar (43 from 52 balls with 4 fours) jumped out of his crease very early and the bowler Mendis was clever enough to beat the bat with a wide one that went straight on for the keeper to effect an easy stumping. Tendulkar had put on 62 for the third wicket.

Virat Kohli after reaching his third ODI fifty went way back in the crease to work an off break across the line which he missed to get out lbw. Debutant Suraj Randiv was the man taking this crucial wicket as India slipped to 132 for 4 in the 27th over. Kohli scored 54 from 65 balls with 7 fours. It was again innings building process for the Indians and Skipper MS Dhoni kept his head down to do exactly that in the company of Suresh Raina.

When Dhoni was on 49, he was given two lives in a single over by his counterpart Kumar Sangakkara. It was the 37th over when Sangakkara had dropped an edge off a cut shot followed up by messing up a simple stumping chance off Mendis. The Indian Captain made full use of that to go onto smash a century. Suresh Raina too exploded along with Dhoni as India smacked 103 runs in the last 10 overs. Dhoni finished with 107 from 111 balls with 8 fours and 3 sixes, this was his 6th ODI hundred. Raina who got out in the 47th over scored 68 from 55 balls with 4 fours and 3 sixes. For the Lankans, Randiv picked up 3 for 51 in his 10 overs.

The Lankans in their chase got off to another wonderful opening stand between Dilshan and Tharanga. Sri Lanka were running away with the match in the first ten overs and Dhoni was forced to not only bring Harbhajan early but also hold back the bowling powerplay. The off spinner provided the big breakthrough when Tharanga (37 from 42 balls) stepped out and closed the face of the blade too early to get a leading edge to slip. The inform Sangakkara joined Dilshan with SL at 102 for 1 in 14 overs.

Sangakkara scored 21 from 22 balls before getting run out in the 22nd over following a mix up with Dilshan. India were trying to come back into the game after that but with Dilshan still in, Sri Lanka were the strong favourites. It was only in the 36th over that Dilshan finally headed back to the pavilion after getting cleaned up by a reversing yorker from Ashish Nehra. Dilshan made 123 from 113 balls with 12 fours and 2 sixes.

After Dilshan’s fall, India tightened the screws with Zaheer coming up with the wickets of Mahela Jayawardene (caught behind for 39 after trying to drive on the up) in the 40th over and Thilina Kandamby (brilliantly caught at mid on by Kohli off a miscued pul having scored 29) in the 45th over. Two balls later, Zaheer clean bowled Kapugedera who played all around a yorker. Sri Lanka at this stage slipped to 267 for 6 needing 35 to get from 31 balls.

Angelo Mathews kept his cool to see Sri Lanka through the last phase of the chase although the visitors lost one more wicket in Suraj Randiv. The 48th and the 49th over produced 9 runs each to seal the Sri Lankan victory. Mathews remained unbeaten on 37 from 25 balls with 4 fours and in the course of his innings had pulled his hamstring. Sri Lanka won the match with five balls to spare. Tillakaratne Dilshan got the Man of the Match.

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