A format that flushes out minnows early, allows top 8 to go head to head, and keeps each team in hunt for a semifinal spot right upto their last league game even without a single win is one brilliant schedule ICC have found for T20 world cups. It's been repeated thrice in 3 editions and we wonder pattern would continue for this every alternate year tournament..
Yesterday at Beausejour stadium, having lost both their super 8s game quite poorly, India had back doors open for semifinal spot had they won this Sri Lankan encounter with a good margin. Toss came out in Indian favour and calculations became simple ~ India required at least a 20 run victory [to better their net runrate, and then hope West Indies lose to invincible Australia (which eventually happened)].
Dinesh Karthik had done no wrong in only game he played against South Africans earlier in the tournament but today he made yet another comeback, after warming the bench and carrying drinks for next 2 games. Opening with Gautam Gambhir, Karthik looked superb, like he had against Africans, square cutting and lofting fast bowlers by dancing down the track like a pro. Gambhir changed gears at other end too (although he ran between wickets they don't even in tests) and Indians were fuming at 30 for no loss, by far the best opening stand for them in the championship.
Karthik fell caught and bowled to Lasith Malinga who nicely disguised a slower one, but Suresh Raina's arrival continued the acceleration. Raina had scored a century at the venue just a week ago and his half century was up in just 37 balls.
At 90 for 1 in 10th over, blue team should have doubled their total in next 10 but as it turned out, superstars like Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Yusuf Pathan and Raina himself couldn't time the ball. Just 37 runs were made off last 5 overs, and India finished with healthy but surely not impressive 163 for 5 wkts in 20 overs.
Sri Lankan chase started with confusion.. should they target 143 required to eliminate India and hope Windies lose to Aussies or go for a win. Mahela Jayawardene, highest run scorer of the tournament, edged one to Yusuf Pathan at first slip after just one classically flicked four and then vetern Sanath Jayasuriya departed in next over. 2 down for 6, Tillakaratane Dilshan started to counter attack in his usual manner but he too found the only fielder in the deep to reduce Lankans to 3 for 49 in the 8th over.
Captain Kumar Sangakkara and allrounder Angelo Mathews had a tough job in hand on a pitch that was fast slowing down and they were up to it, hitting 5 sixes between them, adding crucial 56 off just 42 balls, brining their team back into contest.
Match wasn't over yet and asking runrate was still over two runs a ball but Indian heads were dropping fast as their semifinal hopes got gloomy. Chamara Kapugedera made most of uninspired Indian bowling, smashed 13 runs off last over to win the game for his country.
The scoresIndia 163 for 5 wickets in 20 overs
S Raina 63, G Gambhir 41, MS Dhoni 23*
Sri Lanka 167 for 5 wickets in 20 overs
Sangakkara 46, Mathews 46, Kapugedera 37*
Full scorecard : India v Sri Lanka, World T20.
Indian team refusedto send someone to give live tv interview to commentators at the baundary ropes like we watch in every twenty20 match, confirmed Harsha Bhogle, the voice of Indian cricket.