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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

End of an era as India brush Sri Lanka aside: CB series #11

India 3/180 [32.2 overs] (S Tendulkar 63, G Gambhir 63) defeated Sri Lanka 179 [47.1 overs] (C Kapugedera 57, P Kumar 4/31, I Sharma 4/31) by 7 wickets with 106 balls to spare at Bellerive, Hobart: CB Series match 11.

This will almost certainly be the last ODI to be played in this country, at least for some time, which does not involve the Australian team. I've always enjoyed these contests between the visiting sides, whether as a spectator at the ground or, like today, watching them on TV, as they've often turned out to be closer fought than many of the Australia games.

Alas, it wasn't so today. Sri Lanka, with Kumar Sangakkara (again) and Sanath Jayasuriya (at last) in good touch, reached 1/72 from 14 overs. Then they collapsed, losing 6 middle order wickets for 21 to some hostile pace bowling from Praveen Kumar (10-2-31-4), Ishant Sharma (again: 10-0-41-4) and Irfan Pathan (10-2-23-1 ). The game was thus effectively over in the 26th over, even though Chamara Kapugedera played resolutely for 57/86b before, like several of his teammates, he fell to a careless stroke.

On a good Bellerive pitch a target of 180 didn't look too challenging, even in this series of low scores. Lasith Malinga disposed of Robin Uthappa, opening in place of the (again) omitted Virender Sehwag, giving Sri Lanka a brief hope of victory. Then Sachin Tendulkar, who was dropped at slip before he'd scored, and Gautam Gambhir put the Sri Lankan attack to the sword. They added 102 in 110 balls before Tendulkar went for a scintillating 63/54 b (10x4). He made batting look so easy. By comparison Gambhir appeared pedestrian but his 63 no/ 89b (5x4) allowed first Tendulkar and then Yuvraj Singh 36/35b (4x4, 1x6) to lead the charge home in double quick time.

India will now face Australia in the final. The Australians will start favourites by virtue of their record to date, though India, if they can select the best team for the conditions (which I'm not convinced that they've usually done), are capable of taking the finals to a third game, especially if the stormy Brisbane and Sydney weather returns.


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