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    July 28, 2004



    In a daring heist, comparable to well ... what India pulled off against South Africa less than two years ago at the same ground, India squeaked past Sri Lanka to reach the Asia Cup final and put Pakistan out of the tournament. Virender Sehwag once again came to the party in a must-win-to-reach-finals game. Eerily enough, Sehwag's bowling had been extremely crucial in the ICC Champions Trophy win against South Africa.

    Sehwag and Ganguly laid the foundation for the Indian innings with a 134 run partnership after Tendulkar had played ominously well but was trapped plumb in front. Neither of the two were really as fluent as they normally are, but they gritted it out and unveiled some superb strokes as they settled in. Sehwag gave a few chances, but also ensured that the run-rate never dipped alarmingly with some good aggressive hits. The partnership between the two ended when Sehwag was out trying to slog Jayasuriya. Dravid didnt last long and Ganguly got out trying too hard to hit Malinga over the infield after a good partnership with Yuvraj Singh. Yuvraj tonked a quickfire half-century. A total of 271 didn't really seem enough considering that at the 30 over mark, India were nearly 150/1 and looking at 300+.

    The target of 272 seemed even more meagre when Jayasuriya and Gunawardene got Sri Lanka off to a flier. Jayasuriya continued off unaware of the wickets falling around him taking a liking to Zaheer, belting him for 21 runs in an over. At 134/5 in the 27th over, Sri Lanka were in deep trouble. But Dilshan combined excellently with Jayasuriya in a century partnership which ended thanks to Sehwag's huge offbreak. Jayasuriya had already got to his 18th one-day century, an excellent knock considering the circumstances and weather conditions. But after Sehwag snared Jayasuriya, India were back in the game. Irfan Pathan bowled a superb 49th over, giving away just 4 runs and taking a wicket. Zaheer Khan was the chosen one for the final over and he bowled very sensibly under a lot of pressure. With 5 required off the last ball to win (a boundary would have meant a tied game which would have meant India would more or less be out of the tournament), Zaheer bowled a quick one outside off-stump which Zoysa was unable to connect and India were through to the final!
    Thus spake Jagadish @ 10:57 AM |
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