Suspense after chase thriller

Virat Kohli

Responding a tad slowly to his partner's call, Gautam Gambhir turned back for the second and was run-out at the bowler's end. Gambhir (63) was India's top-scorer until then, and he expressed his frustration aloud on his walk back to the dressing room. In hindsight, however, and taking nothing away from his steely knock, Gambhir's dismissal in the 28th over was the moment that flipped over India's enthralling chase of 321 for the better.

A strike rate of a shade under 100 98.43, to be precise would have been applauded on any other occasion. But on a day when India needed a minimum SR of 160.5 from the very outset, that shade could have cost India, if not the match, then almost certainly the vital bonus point and therefore a place in the series.

At the fall of Gambhir's wicket, India still needed 121 runs from 75 balls (a scoring rate of 161.4 runs per 100 balls) to win the lifeline. And Suresh Raina did just that as Mahela Jayawardene regretted delaying the bowling powerplay.

Inexplicable powerploy

Inexplicably, the Sri Lankan captain didn't expire his five-over period of field restrictions until the 28th over of the game. It meant that India who were required to finish the game by the 40th over of the chase to claim five points were given a welcome 10-over spell of empty outfields, out of the last 13 overs of the game. Raina, who has earned his stripes for making full use of every convenience designed in a batsman-friendly game, made sure that it didn't go to the last three.

India encashed their batting powerplay immediately after the bowling one, and Raina made a mockery of the Sri Lankan attack by striking 40 unbeaten runs from 24 balls. At the other end, the burden of steadying the ship and scoring quickly lifted from Virat Kohli's shoulders. The fact that he continued to go at well over a run-a-ball only helped, and India accomplished the quickest successful chase of a 300-plus in 36.4 over.

... contd.

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