Asia Cup: Lanka beat India by 13 runs

Sri Lanka beat India by 13 runs at Dambulla today, despite a fightback by Rahul Dravid who scored a brilliant 82 runs.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:07 IST
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Rahul Dravid's gritty effort went in vain as India ran out of steam to crash to a 13-run defeat against hosts Sri Lanka in their last group-B league match of the Asia Cup one-day cricket tournament. Nuwan Zoysa was declared man of the match, taking three for 49 besides connecting a direct hit to find Sehwag short of his crease. Tough fight Dravid led the fight back after early loss of wickets with a courageous 82 off 96 balls, but the target off 283 proved too stiff for the Indians as they finished at 269 for eight in a thrilling day-night encounter at the Rangiri Stadium. The Indian vice-captain shared a 133-run fifth wicket partnership with Yuvraj Singh who overcame a scratchy start to slam a vital 47. Despite the loss, India advance to the Super League stage of the six-nation tournament as the second team in the group and will take on group A runner-up Bangladesh at Colombo on Wednesday. Poor start India first allowed Sri Lanka to make 282 for 4, and then their run chase began badly. First to go was Sachin Tendulkar, out for 11 on the day he became India's most capped one day player ahead of Mohammad Azharuddin. Parthiv Patel, who has been promoted to open, didn't last long either. However the biggest blow was when Virender Sehwag was run out off a direct throw by Nuwan Zoysa for 37 off 39 balls. He was followed by skipper Sourav Ganguly (8) who was caught by Muralitharan. Short-lived recovery Dravid and Yuvraj took some time to find their feet but then blossomed out in the middle overs to put Sri Lanka back on defence. The two staged a recovery to the extent that Indians after being 71 for four at one stage, were 200 for 4 in the 40th over, the same as Sri Lanka were at this juncture batting first. But Yuvraj departed in the 41st over through a miscued hit off Chaminda Vaas after making 47 from 78 balls with four fours. Downhill run Mohammad Kaif immediately made his presence felt by slamming Zoysa through the covers and then picking him up and depositing him beyond the wide midwicket stands. Dravid departed in the 46th over when he went on the backfoot to Muthiah Muralitharan and was bowled for 82 from 96 balls with eight fours and a six. That sounded the end of India's chase as Sri Lankan bowlers closed out the game in a professional manner. Lankan tally Earlier, Sri Lanka set new benchmark in run-scoring with a total of 282 for 4. All Sri Lankan batsmen on view combined well without quite converting those good starts into eye-catching scores. The first two wickets raised 63 and 65 runs and then Kumara Sangakkara (57) and Mahela Jayawardene (58 not out) made Indian fielders scramble with a 116-run fourth wicket stand from 90 balls. This is the highest total ever witnessed in Dambulla's short international history of 14 matches, improving upon the 262 which Australians had made against Sri Lanka last season. The wicket might have been slow and the Indians only four-bowler strong but it must be uncomfortable for the visitors to remember two of the three wickets that fell came by way of run out. Indians still relied on three seamers and a spinner combination but the fifth bowler quota between Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh cost 77 runs. India must now be hugely worried about the form of Zaheer Khan who conceded only 39 runs from his nine overs but his gingerly landing is now a matter of concern for his and team's supporters. Gunawardene shines Avishka Gunawardene, fresh from his impressive half century against UAE on Saturday, was promoted at the top of the order and relished the chance with a powerful 49 from 77 balls with five fours. Saman Jayantha, playing only his eighth game struck 34 from 40 balls but what stayed in mind was his brillianty hooked six off Irfan Pathan. India's next two wickets came through some good work in the field. Gunawardene flicked Kumble towards fine leg but wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel intercepted and threw it back to the bowler who made the most of 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. (With PTI inputs)