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December 21, 2009
Indian captain Virender Sehwag has praised his bowlers for their performance in the third ODI against Sri Lanka in Cuttack. The hosts won comfortably by seven wickets to take a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.
After Kumar Sangakkara, his opposite number, opted to bat, a solid performance from Sri Lanka's top order had put them on course for a massive total but India's bowlers hit back to shoot out the visitors - who were 160 for 1 after 22 overs - for 239 in the 45th over.
"The credit for this victory ought to go to the bowlers, especially Harbhajan [Singh] and [Ravindra] Jadeja," Sehwag said. "The wicket was slow and it kept low at times and it helped the spinners a bit.
"With the kind of start they got, I was praying they wouldn't get 350 or 400 on the board," Sehwag said. "But we were constantly looking to take wickets and Ashish Nehra did a fantastic job during the Powerplay.
"Once he got [Tillakaratne] Dilshan out, Harbhajan and Jadeja did their job very well and the game turned on its head."
Sehwag then got India's chase off to a lightning start with 44 from 28 deliveries, while fellow-opener Sachin Tendulkar remained unbeaten on 96 as India made light work of the target, getting home with 7.2 overs to spare.
"My job is to give the team a good start and score as many as I can," Sehwag said. "I was in good form and I utilised the first 10 overs very well. Tendulkar then played right through the innings and ensured we won. Overall, this was an excellent team performance."
His Sri Lankan counterpart blamed the defeat on the poor batting display after his side lost their last eight wickets for 74 runs. "We had everything going for us: a blazing start, a good partnership which I managed to put on with Tharanga which gave us a good base," Sangakkara said. "But too many wickets lost and that was probably the story of the game.
"We didn't really have a target in mind at the start but the focus was on keeping rhythm, working hard and building partnerships. We just lost too many wickets and with it momentum."
Sangakkara said Sri Lanka had effectively lost the game in the early overs of the Indian reply. "We had to try and get something with the new ball but these are not the easiest of wickets to bowl on. The bowlers did a really good job and we were good in the field as well but we really had nothing to defend.
"We need to take a good look at ourselves as individuals and take a lot more responsibility when we get out there again. We have got to keep fighting and we have got to come back."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala