Zaheer sets up Indian victory

Dambulla, August 20:

Mahendra Singh Dhoni capped Zaheer Khan’s devastating spell with a crucial 39 as India posted a tense three-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the second one-day international today.

Zaheer ran through the top order in his opening spell to finish with 4-21 as India bundled Sri Lanka out for a meagre 142. He was brilliantly backed by paceman Praveen Kumar (3-34).

But India skipped a few heartbeats before achieving the modest target with more than 10 overs to spare to level the five-match series 1-1. They were wobbling at 75-5 after Thilan Thushara and Nuwan Kulasekara shared four wickets, but skipper Dhoni and debutant Subramaniam Badrinath (27 not out) held their nerve under pressure. When Dhoni inside-edged paceman Dilhara Fernando’s delivery on to his stumps, his team were just eight runs short of the win with four wickets in hand.

Unorthodox Sri Lankan spinner Mendis yet again made the Indian batsmen struggle for runs, getting the big wicket of Yuvraj Singh before finishing with 2-22. Yuvraj (20) was trapped leg-before to leave his team wobbling at 52-3.

India appeared to have squandered the advantage given by Zaheer when they lost makeshift opener Irfan Pathan and Suresh Raina in Kulasekara’s opening spell and then Virat Kohli (37) and Rohit Sharma in Thushara’s one over. Dhoni and Badrinath then added 60 for the sixth wicket which proved vital in a low-scoring game.

Sri Lanka were earlier in danger of falling to their lowest-ever total of 96 against India when they were reduced to 44-6, but Thushara (44) and Kulasekara (25) rallied their side with a 74-run stand.

The third match of the series will be played in Colombo on Sunday.