India triumph by 63 runs at Bristol
Sri Lanka's wretched NatWest tournament ended with a comprehensive 63-run defeat by India at Bristol. Although they briefly looked capable of challenging India's massive total of 304, a middle-order collapse ensured victory for Saturday's finalists. Sachin Tendulkar, whose magnificent 113 set up India's winning total, was made Man of the Match.
Sri Lanka could hardly have made a worse start to the chase as Jayasuriya, immediately after carving Khan to the third man boundary, was plumb lbw to the same bowler. But an array of boundaries from Atapattu and Sangakkara ensured such a rapid scoring rate that Sri Lanka's first 50 came off 35 balls. Yohannan's first over went for 14 runs as he was hit for six into the Jessop Stand and backward of point for four by Sangakkara, who proceeded to his fifty off 32 balls with another fierce boundary.
Harbhajan made the vital breakthrough in his first over as Sangakkara, trying to hit him over extra cover, was stumped by Dravid. He had put on 85 with Atapattu from 73 balls. Almost inevitably the tempo slowed, although at the halfway stage of their innings, Sri Lanka were more than halfway to India's total. However their hopes suffered a severe setback when Jayawardene reverse-swept Yuvraj straight to Nehra at short third man. Worse was to follow when Atapattu, seeking a sharp single, was thrown out by Yuvraj shortly after reaching his half century. Zoysa, promoted as pinch-hitter, hoisted Ganguly for six over mid-wicket before perishing next ball, caught by Mongia at long-on.
Arnold joined the melancholy procession, run out by Kaif at cover as he backed up too far. As the required run rate mounted, Samaraweera lost his off stump trying to dab Harbhajan to third man. Chandana was caught at deep mid-wicket by Nehra, also off Harbhajan. Although Silva managed a flurry of boundaries, including two in a row off Sehwag, he too fell victim to Harbhajan, stumped by Dravid. It ended with a run out as Fernando, sent back by Vaas as he called for a second, fell well short of his ground. India's win returns them to the top of the tournament league table.
Their 304 was built around Tendulkar, although Sehwag opened with his usual flamboyance, taking 12 off the over from Vaas. Ganguly was run out looking for a second run after Sehwag had clipped Vaas to fine leg. It didn't affect the scoring rate as Sehwag continued to make the most of the fielding restrictions. However he too was run out, backing up too far after a defensive push by Mongia.
Rapturously received as ever, Tendulkar did not disappoint his admirers. Boundaries were unfurled through mid-off, extra cover, backward point and mid-wicket, all off the hapless Zoysa. India's 100 came up off just 94 balls. He went to his 50 off just 36 balls, with a pushed single off Jayawardene that was followed by two blistering drives to the cover boundary. He lost Mongia for 48 with the score on 172, bowled off his pads by Samaraweera. After providing steady support, Dravid was lbw, hitting across the line at Chandana.
Samaraweera dismissed Yuvraj in similar fashion, but when the same bowler had the temerity to appeal for lbw against Tendulkar, his next ball was deposited amongst the flag-waving Indian crowd on the Hammond roof. When Tendulkar reached his century (off 93 balls) with a single off Vaas he was greeted with ecstatic applause.
Kaif picked up the mood with two boundaries in an over off Fernando, through long-on and backward point. Tendulkar finally perished for 113 (102 balls, one six, 12 fours) having a massive swing at Vaas for Chandana to hold the catch at third man. Harbhajan was run out without facing a ball, Khan was bowled first ball by Fernando, and Kaif ended another promising innings by hitting Zoysa down Silva's throat at deep square leg. But despite the flurry of wickets, India's total of over 300 was a daunting one, and so it proved in the fullness of time.