Asia Cup: Rahul Dravid leads India's chase for victory

Chasing a target of 283 to win against Sri Lanka, India were 187 for 4 with Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh at the crease after 38 overs.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:07 IST
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Rahul Dravid is spearheading India's chase for the target of 283 to win against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup encounter in Dambulla today. After India lost four early wickets, Dravid, alongwith Yuvraj Singh, are putting up steady runs on the board as the hosts try to restrict India. Zoysa strikes India however suffered a jolt early when Nuwan Zoysa ripped through the top order picking up three wickets and running out another one within the first 15 overs. First to go was Sachin Tendulkar (11) and then Parthiv Patel (6). Then Virender Sehwag (37) was run out, followed by skipper Sourav Ganguly (8) who was caught by Muralitharan. At the end of 38 overs, India were 187 for 4 with Rahul Dravid (57) and Yuvraj Singh (40) at the crease. Earlier, a brilliant 116-run partnership by Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene propelled Sri Lanka to the comfortable score of 282 with the loss of 3 wickets. The partnership was finally broken when Sangakarra (57) was caught by Sourav Ganguly off Irfan Pathan. Wayward bowling The Indian bowlers proved to be expensive and the sole wicket-takers were Irfan Pathan and Balaji. It is now up to the Indian batsmen to achieve the target to win the match. Some wayward bowling in the late overs and the inability to get enough breakthroughs saw a spirited Sri Lanka launch a counter attack, scoring as many as 83 runs in the last 10 overs. The Lankans launched the late assault through Mahela Jayawardene (58 not out) and Kumar Sangakkara (52) to set up a huge target for the Indians at the Rangiri International Stadium after electing to bat in the day-night encounter. The initial hard work of the Indians came to a naught as the two middle order batsmen put up a whirlwind 117 run partnership for the fourth wicket, much to the delight of the sizeable home crowd. This was the highest total ever witnessed in Dambulla ground's short international history of 14 matches, improving upon the 262 which Australia made against the hosts last season. Growing confidence After a tentative start, the Lankans grew in confidence with the first two wickets raising 63 and 65 runs before Sangakkara and Jayawardene made the Indian fielders scramble with their 116-run stand which came off just 90 balls. Avishka Gunawardene, fresh from his impressive half century against UAE yesterday and promoted at the top of the order, relished the chance with 49 from 77 balls with five fours. Saman Jayantha, playing only his eighth game, struck 34 from 40 balls, a brilliantly hooked six off Irfan Pathan being the highlight of his knock. India's next two wickets came through some good work in the field. Gunawardene flicked Kumble towards fine leg but wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel, intercepting it, threw it back to the bowler who made the most of the batsmen's hesitation. Gunawardene's 49 came from 77 balls and included five fours. Skipper Marvan Atapattu moved effortlessly to his half century from 76 balls with three fours before he took his chance against Yuvraj's powerful arm at point and paid the penalty. Jayawardene shines Jayawardene then took centrestage and played some sensible cricket to remain not out on 58 which included a mighty six off Sehwag and three fours. Earlier, India left out VVS Laxman, who sustained an injury during practice yesterday, and brought in wicketkeeper- batsman Parthiv Patel. Sri Lanka made three changes with captain Atapattu, who had rested himself in the first match, Chaminda Vaas and Pervez Mahroof coming in place star batsman Sanath Jayasuriya, Lasitha Malinga and Thilina Kandamby. Jayasuriya had to pull out because of a back strain.
(With PTI inputs)