June 6, 2002

Chopra stars in India A's convincing win in series decider

Staff Reporter

A brilliant century from opening batsman Akash Chopra (109 off 132 balls) took India A to a convincing five-wicket victory over Sri Lanka A in the deciding fifth one-day match played at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, on Thursday. India A thereby won the five-match series 2-1, after rain had washed out the first two encounters.

In the morning, Sri Lanka A elected to bat first but found the going tough against a resilient visiting side. Most of their batsmen got to double figures yet failed to convert those into even a fifty. Only Romesh Kaluwitharana (34 off 43 balls) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (47 off 79 balls) made mentionable contributions.

A late flourish from Chamara Silva (29 off 24 balls) and Akalanka Ganegama (16* off 18 balls) however helped Sri Lanka A post 223/8 in 50 overs. Lakshmipathy Balaji and Irfan Pathan Jr picked up two wickets each. Earlier, Sarandeep Singh (7-0-27-1) had applied the screws in the middle overs of the Sri Lanka A innings.

Chasing a modest target of 224 in 50 overs, India A were never in trouble and emerged victorious with 2.2 overs to spare. Chopra, a 24-year-old right-handed batsman from Delhi, applied himself to the task admirably, striking eight boundaries while compiling a match-winning hundred.

India A lost the wicket of Gautam Gambhir (5), early in their run chase. Skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar (24) and Rohan Gavaskar (16) could not capitalise on their good starts and India A were 98/3 in the 29th over.

Chopra then found an ally in Jai P Yadav with whom he added 116 runs for the fourth wicket in just 16.5 overs. The partnership all but took the match away from the home team. Yadav made a whirlwind 55 off just 52 balls, striking three boundaries and a six.

Even though India A lost the wickets of Yadav and Chopra with just a few runs needed to seal the win, Parthiv Patel (3*) and Sridharan Sriram (1*) ensured the emphatic victory.