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Dream run chase – memorable Lankan win

Dream run chase - memorable Lankan winSaleque Sufi
India Vs Sri Lanka played at Oval
India 321/6 ( Shikhar Dhawan 125 ,Rohit Sharma 78 , Mahendra Singh Dhoni 61 ,Lasith Malinga 2/ 70 ) lost to Sri Lanka 323/3 ( BKG Mendis 89 , MD Gunathilaka 76 , AD Mathews 51* , MDKJ Perera 47 retired out , DAS Gunaratne 34* ) by 7 wickets.

Some matches in cricket create fairy tales. Some matches dictate the fate of a tournament. Sri Lanka India Group B match of ICC Champions trophy 2017, played yesterday at Oval is one such. It may turn out as the match defining the fate of tournament. It might have seen the fall of a giant who knows.

Young brigade of Lankan Lions illuminated the Champions trophy with a milestone win against favorites India. No one gave chasing an almost unassailable target of 322 to win against a formidable Indian bowling attack, the still maturing new look Sri Lanka cantered home losing only 3 wickets only, of which two were run outs.

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Those who were in Oval yesterday and those who saw ball to ball drama panning out perhaps witnessed one of the most fascinating contest of modern day cricket. All knows what Shikhar Dhawan (125 in 128 balls) , Rohit Sharma (78in 79 balls ) and MS Dhoni (63 in 52 balls) can do with the bat but world new cool headed brilliance of Kushal Mendis (89 in 93 balls) , Danushka Gunathilaka ( 76 in 72 balls) and Kushal Perera ( 47* in 44 balls) cane spanking Indian bowlers and composed Angelo Matthews ( 52* in 45) putting the icing on the cake.

Sri Lankan memorable victory, the highest ever run chase in the tournaments history has made the group B and the tournament wide open. With the third and final round of the round robin matches starting today only the host has confirmed booking for semifinals. Any three of the other seven have theoretical opportunities of getting through.

Each of the last four group encounters have become knock outs. Win you stay, lose you exit. Can anything be sweeter than this? Hope rain stays out.On current form and player to player matching Indians were far ahead of the Lankans. No observer would have given Lankans any opportunity for upsetting the rampaging Indians after their thumping victory against Pakistan.

Sri Lanka does not have Sangrakara or Jayawardene their recent heroes. They also lost Upal Tharanga missing out for suspensions. Other than Angelo Mathews retiring after a while and ever young Mallinga none of the new crop had big match experience – playing reigning inform champions in alien conditions.

Moreover. India cruised to a massive 321/6 having put into bat on an easy paced Oval wicket with a short boundary in one end. Dhawan and Rohit caned the Lankan bowlers and Dhoni produced his characteristic helicopter shot mixed flamboyance. Even expert commentators and analysts at innings break were not giving Sri Lanka any chance.

But somehow Sangrakara had some hope in his voice. As Sri Lankan response proceeded that voice started growing more and more confident. The way the boys stood up and gave the masters a lesson must have pleased Lankan hero Sangakara like others. The Lankan drum keeps playing all the time anywhere they play sounded sweeter.

Though Mendis was named player of the match it could be any of the three Gunathilaka or Mathhews. .All three were equally spectacular on the day. It was gay cavalier brand of fearless cricket a treat to the eyes… Kumar, Yadav, Bumrah and Jadeja are top ranked bowlers in limited over cricket these days. They were treated like pedestrians on the day. Perhaps India lost a trick in not playing Aswin.

His carom balls and controlled off spin could do the trick in defending huge target. Indian bowling made no impressions. Off the three wickets that went down Gunathilaka and Mendis were run outs. The 159 runs second wicket partnership between Gunathilaka and Mendis set the tone of the chase.

That was so defining that even after their quick exit one after another through run outs new comers Kushal Perera and Mathews could keep the momentum going. At a crucial stage when Perera walked out retired hurt from hemi Mathews piloted the team through calm waters having another youngsters Gunaratne as his partners in India bashing. The unbroken partnership produced 51 in quick time.

Sometimes morning does not show the day. Otherwise who would have predicted such a reverse after Shikhar and Rohit steam rolled Lankan bowling to 138 first wicket partnership in 25 overs.

However, Pradeep knocking out Kohli for nought and Gunatane removing Yuvaraj early put some hold on the innings for a while. Yet Shikhar went on and scored a brilliant attacking 125 in 128 balls. Among others only MSD could produce an innings of substance 63 in 52 deliveries. 321 at innings break was thought enough in consideration of depth and diversity of Indian bowling and inexperience of Sri Lankan batting.

But as always old timers say a cricket match never ends till the last ball is bowled. Sri Lanka playing fearless brave cricket won the day huge and handsome.

People thought group B as easy sailing for the two higher ranked teams South Africa and India. Now in two days Pakistan winning against South Africa in Duckworth & Lewis method and Sri Lanka upsetting India the group is wide open.

The two matches of the group B are virtual knock outs. It will be either India or South Africa and Pakistan or Sri Lanka which would advance.

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