Luckily for the Indian captain no Sri Lankan batsman could make a really big score and Sri Lanka could post only 245. While this wasn't a big score by any standards, it was always going to test the Indians on a wicket where the ball was not coming on to the bat. The conditions were not at all suited to stroke making and this made the task harder for the Indians.
The Sri Lankan opening bowlers Vaas and Zoysa made quick work of Tendulkar and Ganguly. Tendulkar made only 3 before he was caught behind off the bowling of Vaas. Zoysa followed his senior partner's example and had Ganguly caught behind. India were in a bit of trouble at 13 for 2. Nayan Mongia was sent in as a pinch hitter, and he did the job just as the situation demanded. Building a steady partnership with Azhar, the duo pushed the score on to 117, when Mongia was finally dismissed. At the fall of Mongia's wicket, every one expected Ajay Jadeja to come in, but instead, the Indian think tank sent out Javagal Srinath. Srinath didn't last very long, being run out for 1. Jadeja came in next and with Azhar, took India closer to the total. As only the Indian team can do, three quick wickets were lost, and it all seemed in vain at 215 for 7. With just 3.4 overs remaining and 31 runs to get Ajit Agarkar walked out to the middle. The rest as they sasy is history. Agarkar pulled out talents of batsmanship that no one knew existed in him, and proceeded to play probably the most important innings of his life. In a cameo of 26 not out from just 12 balls, Agarkar turned the match around. The difference between India winning and losing, was Agarkar's innings. Agarkar's 26 included one 4 and two huge sixes. This innings of Agarkar was exactly the kind of last minute magic that India had been lacking all these years. Perhaps Agarkar was the man to infuse the fighting spirit ibnto the Indian team.
Date-stamped : 30 Dec1999 - 13:43