S. Dinakar

Gros Islet (St. Lucia): India's ordinary run in the ICC event continues. The side, defending 163, was eliminated from the World Twenty20 when Sri Lanka crossed 143 in a vital Group ‘F' match here on Tuesday.

Then, Sri Lanka clinched a thriller when Chamara Kapugedera, with three needed off the last ball, gave left-arm paceman Ashish Nehra the charge before bludgeoning the ball over cover for a six.

The jubilant Sri Lankans, victorious by five wickets, ran onto the ground. The Indians were a picture of dejection.

India now, in successive editions of this competition, has lost all its three matches in the Super Eight stage. Sri Lanka, with its second win in the Super Eight stage, booked a semifinal berth against England.

This was a day when all-rounder Angelo Mathews (46 off 37 balls) and Kapugedera (37 not out off 16 deliveries) snuffed out the Indian hopes.

Strong comeback

India had made the early inroads but ran into the canny Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara and the influential Mathews. The slog-swept six off leg-spinner Piyush Chawla indicated the mood Mathews was in. Sangakkara upped the tempo, sashaying down the track and hitting Harbhajan Singh over mid-wicket for a six.

The Sri Lankan captain then turned his attention to Yusuf Pathan's off-spin in the 14th over as he dismissed the bowler for sixes over mid-wicket and long-on. Paceman Vinay Kumar, from round the wicket, sent back Sangakkara (46 off 33) as the left-hander, attempting to create room, missed.

Mathews and Kapugedera picked up a boundary each in the crucial 17th over as Nehra strayed in line. The over produced 11 vital runs.

Eleven runs were scored off the 18th over as well with Matthews lofting Chawla over mid-on to the fence and Kapugedara driving the leg-spinner with a flourish. Sri Lanka was 134 for four at the conclusion of the over.

Then Kapugedera launched into Vinay in the 19th over that fetched a whopping 17 runs. When he clobbered the fifth delivery over long-on for the maximum, India was out of the tournament. The final over

Sri Lanka required 13 off the final over. Mathews bludgeoned the first delivery — a full toss — over long-on for a six. Nehra came back strongly, conceding just four runs off his next four deliveries while running out the valiant Mathews when the batsman dug out a yorker and ran. Three runs were required off the final ball when Kapugedera came up with the last act of the match.

Earlier, the Indians seemed on the ball as the Sri Lankans chased. Nehra removed the in-form Mahela Jayawardene in the first over, Yusuf holding a sharp catch at slip. Vinay prised out veteran Sanath Jayasuriya on the pull. Sri Lanka was six for two in the second over.

Tillakaratne Dilshan waded into Nehra in the third over, twice pulling the left-armer and gliding the ball fine when he was provided some width.

Dilshan continued to hammer the bowling even as Sangakkara held firm from the other end.

The former (33 off 26) fell when he attempted to swing Yusuf and was picked up by Yuvraj at square-leg.

Sri Lanka was 58 for three after 10 overs. Then an inspired Mathews — adjudged Man-of-the-Match — changed the course of the contest.

Raina on song

India made 163 for five with the innings revolving around Suresh Raina's 47-ball 63. It was 90 for one after 10 overs with opener Gautam Gambhir and Raina going strong. Sangakkara switched to his strike bowler and Malinga dismissed Gambhir (41 off 32) when the left-hander attempted to glide a short-of-a-length delivery.

In the next over, Dhoni gave the momentum back to India when he stepped down the track and sent Jayasuriya over the wide long-on fence.

However, it was Kapugedera who had the last laugh with his last ball six.

India: D. Karthik c & b Malinga 13 (12b, 2x4), G. Gambhir c Sangakkara b Malinga 41 (32b, 3x4), S. Raina c Jayawardene b Thushara 63 (47b, 7x4, 1x6), M.S. Dhoni (not out) 23 (19b, 1x6), Yuvraj c Jayawardene b Thushara 1 (2b), Yusuf c Kapugedera b Perera 13 (9b, 2x4); Extras (b-1, lb-1, w-6, nb-1): 9. Total (for five wkts. in 20 overs): 163.

Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-96, 3-144, 4-147, 5-163.

Sri Lanka bowling: Mathews 3-0-29-0, Perera 3-0-15-1, Thushara 4-0-41-2, Malinga 4-0-25-2, Randiv 3-0-25-0, Dilshan 2-0-14-0, Jayasuriya 1-0-12-0.

Sri Lanka: M. Jayawardene c Yusuf b Nehra 4 (3b, 1x4), S. Jayasuriya c Karthik b Vinay 0 (5b), T. Dilshan c Yuvraj b Yusuf 33 (26b, 5x4), K. Sangakkara b Vinay 46 (33b, 2x4, 3x6), A. Mathews (run out) 46 (37b, 3x4, 2x6), C. Kapugedara (not out) 37 (16b, 2x4, 3x6), T. Perera (not out) 0 (0b); Extras (lb-1): 1. Total (for five wkts. in 20 overs): 167.

Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-6, 3-49, 4-105, 5-161.

India bowling: Nehra 4-0-44-1, Vinay 4-0-30-2, Harbhajan 4-0-35-0, Yusuf 3-0-23-1, Chawla 4-0-28-0, Yuvraj 1-0-6-0 .

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