Laxman and Dravid: Back to winning ways
India took on the home side Sri Lanka for the second time in the ODI
triangular series for the Coca-Cola Cup, at the Premadasa Stadium, Colombo,
on Saturday. This was India's fourth match in the tournament, having lost
all their three previous matches. It was a 'do or die' battle for the
Indians and to add to their woes they were without the services of Sourav
Rahul Dravid took over as the Indian captain and called it wrong at the
toss. Sanath Jayasuriya elected to bat first and Sri Lanka made 103 runs
for the first wicket in 24.3 overs. India staged a remarkable comeback by
picking up the ten wickets for just 80 runs to restrict Sri Lanka to 183.
This gave India a good chance to open their score in the point's table.
The run chase on a good wicket did not get off to a good start. Amay
Khurasiya the specialist opener in the batting line-up failed again, bowled
off the very second ball for a duck, by Chaminda Vaas. Virender Shewag (27)
was caught by Sangakkara off the bowling of Dharmasena and India were 67/2
in 13.3 overs. Rahul Dravid came out to the middle to join Laxman, who by
then was showing enough signs of good form. It has been the Indian batting
that has been a big let down in this tournament and the two senior batsmen
knew too well that they had to apply themselves and take India to the much
sought after win.
Dharmasena and Muttiah Muralitharan were bowling a tight line and length;
Dravid and Laxman went about consolidating the innings, taking the singles.
Laxman got a bit too defensive after his initial burst, but his presence in
the middle was good enough to trouble the Lankans. Muralitharan yet again
bowled brilliantly and credit should be given to Laxman and Dravid for
making sure that Murali finished his spell wicketless. The fifty
partnership came in 18.1 overs.
In the 33rd over Laxman cut loose by playing two powerful shots through the
square on either side of the pitch; the first was a square cut and the
second a glorious pull, fetching valuable fours off the bowling of
Muralitharan. There was no possibility of Sri Lanka tying down India to a
score less than 183, they needed wickets to upset India and the two
experienced batsmen made sure that was not to be. Dravid flicked one ball
from Vaas through mid-wicket for a four to raise the tempo a little and
there was no looking back after that.
The third wicket partnership yielded 84 runs in 23.4 overs, which turned
out to be the match winning one. Dravid made 43 runs off 79 balls with the
help of three boundaries. Kaluwitharana caught him off the bowling of Vaas
in the 38th over, with the Indian score on 151. India went on to knock off
the remaining 33 runs needed for the win in another 8.3 overs, Laxman
leading the way with an unbeaten 87. India won its first match in the
tournament convincingly by seven wickets and kept alive their hopes of
reaching the final. VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid take the honours for the