Cricket

Sangakkara steers SL home

2014-02-28 19:49
Kumar Sangakkara (Gallo)

Fatullah - Kumar Sangakkara has hit a brilliant 103 as Sri Lanka survived anxious moments to overcome India by two wickets in a thrilling last-over finish Friday, securing their second win in the Asia Cup.

The victory was set up by spinners Ajantha Mendis and Sachithra Senanayake, who shared seven wickets to restrict the reigning world champions to 264-9 in the day-night match in Fatullah.

But Sri Lanka lost wickets at regular intervals and were reduced to 216-7 in the 44th over when Thisara Perera helped Sangakkara add 42 crucial runs for the eighth wicket.

Left-handed Sangakkara, who hit 12 boundaries and a six in his 18th one-day century, fell in the penultimate over when just seven runs were needed for victory.

But Mendis and Perera saw Sri Lanka through with four deliveries to spare in a nail-biting finish, giving their team a second win after they beat Pakistan in the tournament opener.

India, who won against Bangladesh, must defeat arch-rivals Pakistan in Dhaka on Sunday to stay in contention for a place in the final.

Sangakkara, a 36-year-old veteran of 366 one-day matches, said India did well to make the game a close affair.

"The dew on the ground made it a lot easier for me," he said. "My job was to stay there for as long as possible and stay competitive. I think handling pressure comes with experience.

"It was a great team effort. It's been a few good months for me. I've worked hard on my fitness and the experience counts."

- Nailbiting finish -

Opener Shikhar Dhawan scored 94 as India, sent in to bat, moved to 175-2 in 35 overs before losing five wickets for 40 runs to slide to 215-7.

Big hitting by the lower order, including two sixes by last man Mohammed Shami off Mendis, lifted India past the 250-run mark.

Mendis, who replaced seamer Suranga Lakmal for the match, justified his selection with four for 60, including the key scalps of Dhawan and stand-in captain Virat Kohli.

Off-spinner Senanayake finished with his best one-day figures of three for 41 as the Indians struggled against the turning ball on the slow wicket.

Kohli, leading India in the absence of the injured Mahendra Singh Dhoni, put on 97 for the second wicket with Dhawan after Rohit Sharma had been trapped leg-before by Senanayake for 13.

Kohli praised his bowlers for taking the match till the last over, despite the dew which made it tough to grip the ball.

"I think the bowlers did a good job," he said. "There was a lot of dew towards the end. But we could have been smarter with our batting and added 25-30 runs more.

"We have to now pull up our socks and rectify the areas in which we are not good."

Kusal Perera and Lahiru Thirimanne gave Sri Lanka a flying start with an 80-run partnership for the first wicket by the 18th over.

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin removed both openers, trapping Thirimanne leg-before for 38 and then having Kusal Perera caught behind for 64.

India bounced back strongly when left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja dismissed Mahela Jayawardene and Dinesh Chandimal with consecutive deliveries to reduce Sri Lanka to 148-4 in the 32nd over.

Seamer Mohammad Shami trapped skipper Angelo Mathews leg-before and had Senanayake caught at mid-wicket, before Jadeja got rid of Chaturanga de Silva as Sri Lanka slumped to 216-7 before their final push.

Afghanistan will take on hosts Bangladesh in the next match in Fatullah on Saturday.

Read more on:    asia cup  |  kumar sangakkara  |  cricket
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