Port of Spain: MS Dhoni smashed two sixes and a four in the final over off Shaminda Eranga to help India clinch yet another victory over Sri Lanka, this time in the final of the Celkon Mobile Cup at Port of Spain on Thursday.
Chasing 201, India started slowly with Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli departing in quick succession but Rohit Sharma was then involved in two good back-to-back partnerships – 50 for the third wicket with Dinesh Karthik (23) and 62 for the fourth wicket with Suresh Raina (32) – as India cruised towards the Sri Lankan total.
But then the big slump came as they lost five wickets for just 27 runs, with set batsmen playing expensive strokes. Dhoni, clearly struggling with his hamstring injury, kept his nerve like he has done on many occasions in the past.
Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath was Sri Lanka’s trump card with a career-best 4 for 20. India needed 20 more runs when the ninth wicket fell. Dhoni changed the strike over on a few occasions but made sure that he remained at the striker’s end in the last over irrespective of the runs needed. He missed the first ball by Eranga, which was pitched well outside off stump, but then came a length ball that went sailing over the long-off fence for a huge six.
Another length delivery was dispatched over the backward point fielder for a boundary. With five needed off three balls, Dhoni launched another pitched-up delivery over covers for six. The shot sealed the one-wicket win for India with two balls to spare.
Earlier, the Sri Lankan innings was in good shape at 171 for 2 in the 38th over before Ashwin, Jadeja and Ishant Sharma inspired the decline.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar had made two early strikes after Dhoni won the toss and chose to bowl. The seamer claimed both openers in a lengthy opening spell. Upul Tharanga (11) was first to go, at 29 for 1 in the seventh over, advancing down the pitch but only inside-edging his aggressive stroke through to wicketkeeper Dhoni.
Jayawardene followed at 49 for 2 when he chased a wide outswinger and provided an easy catch for Ashwin at slip. Sangakkara and Thirimanne had a bit of luck early as they forged a third-wicket stand of 122 to tilt the balance towards Sri Lanka.
Thirimanne was just on 2 when he was dropped by Ashwin at slip off Ishant Sharma, while Sangakkara was 23 when Suresh Raina grassed a difficult return catch.
Veteran Sangakkara went past Sourav Ganguly into sixth place in the leading run-scorers in one-dayers when he reached 9 and played a masterful knock to anchor the innings.
Thirimanne was less fluent but they put their team in a fine position before the dramatic late collapse. Dhoni claimed three stumpings as Jadeja ran through the lower order.