Dhoni To The Rescue For India Once Again

Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit 16 runs in three balls to secure victory for India
©REUTERS / Action Images

India 203-9 (R Sharma 58) beat
Sri Lanka 201 (Sangakkara 71) by 1 wicket
Celkon Mobile Cup final, Trinidad

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni returned from injury to take his team to a one-wicket victory in the Celkon Mobile Cup final against Sri Lanka despite needing 15 to win from the final over.

Having returned from a hamstring injury, such was the brilliance of his last-over rescue job as he took Shaminda Eranga apart, that India won the match with two balls to spare.

After Sri Lanka were bowled out for 201, India were left in trouble at 182 for nine before Dhoni's 45 not out in 52 balls clinched them the title.

It completed a number of comebacks - Dhoni's to the team, India's to win the game, and the tournament after losing their first two matches.

By hitting Eranga for two sixes, including the match-winning stroke, it brought back memories - painful ones for Sri Lanka - of the 2011 World Cup final and Angelo Mathews' men must be wondering just what they have to do to beat India when the stakes are high, having fallen to them at the semi-final stage of the recent Champions Trophy.

Batting first, Sri Lanka lost openers Upul Tharanga (11) and Mahela Jayawardene (22) cheaply but their innings was revived by Kumar Sangakkara's 71 and Lahiru Thirimanne's 46.

They put on 122 for the third wicket after which Sri Lanka collapsed from 171 for three to 201 all out as their last eight wickets mustered just 30 runs.

Ravindra Jadeja took four for 23 to do the bulk of the damage while Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma grabbed two wickets apiece.

India's reply, like Sri Lanka's innings, saw them lose two top-order wickets early as Shikhar Dhawan (16) and Virat Kohli (2) fell.

Rohit Sharma's 58 in 89 balls might not have been swift but it kept the run chase alive even after Dinesh Karthik went for 23.

Suresh Raina then made 32 but as he, Jadeja (5) and Ravichandran Ashwin (0) fell in quick succession, the latter pair both to Rangana Herath (4-20), Sri Lanka looked to have the game all but sewn up.

Victory looked all the more likely when Lasith Malinga trapped Bhuvneshwar in front for nought and Ranganath Vinay Kumar was run out for five, but while the ever-cool Dhoni remained at the crease, India remained in the game.

There was an unsavoury moment late on when Malinga was hit by a water bottle thrown by a spectator in the 43rd over soon after he had removed Bhuvneshwar but fortunately the bowler escaped any serious injury and no further trouble was reported.

On the pitch, Ishant (2 not out) was the man at the other end with the best view in the stadium as Dhoni worked his way to a position from which he felt he could win the match and the Indian captain finally sealed a dramatic victory by hitting Eranga for a six, a four and then another six from the second, third and fourth balls of the final over.

It was like he had never been away.

© Cricket World 2013