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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 July, 2004, 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK
India squeeze into final
Asia Cup, Colombo:
India 271-6 beat Sri Lanka 267-9 (50 overs) by four runs

Sanath Jayasuriya
Jayasuriya's superb innings proved to be all in vain for Sri Lanka

India kept their nerve in a thrilling finish in Colombo to beat Sri Lanka by four runs and clinch a place in the Asia Cup final.

The tournament hosts needed a six off the final ball to win but Nuwan Zoysa failed to make contact.

They finished on 267-9 in reply to India's 271-6 despite 130 off 131 balls by Sanath Jayasuriya.

Virender Sehwag (81) and Sourav Ganguly (79) had earlier been the mainstays of the Indian innings.

The stakes were high for India going into the game as they knew defeat would open the door for Pakistan, who face Bangladesh in the final second phase game on Thursday.

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, were without their two best bowlers with Muttiah Muralitharan attending a family funeral and Chaminda Vaas recuperating from flu.

SECOND ROUND STANDINGS
Sri Lanka
P3 W2 L1 BP2 Pts 13
India
P3 W2 L1 BP2 Pts 12
Pakistan
P2 W1 L1 BP0 Pts 5
Bangladesh
P2 W0 L2 BP0 Pts 0

The home side were given an early lift when Sachin Tendulkar was out for 18 in the seventh over, given out lbw after he was beaten by an inswinging delivery from Zoysa.

But Sehwag hit two sixes and six fours in a stand of 134 with Ganguly before he edged a ball from Jayasuriya to wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara.

Rahul Dravid suffered a rare failure when he fell to seamer Farveez Maharoof but Ganguly added 71 with Yuvraj Singh before both fell to Lasith Malinga, the young fast bowler with the unusual slinging action.

Singh's 50 off 46 balls was just what India needed in the closing overs, but their total was by no means secure against a Sri Lankan side which had already beaten them earlier in the competition.

Jayasuriya set off in typically carefree fashion as they began their reply, buoyed by his return to form with 107 not out against Bangladesh last Friday.

But Avishka Gunawardene, Sama Jayantha and skipper Marvan Atapattu as they slumped to 134-5 in the 27th over.

Tillakaratne Dilshan (39) finally provided the support Jayasuriya needed and their partnership of 103 in 17 overs threw the outcome back in the balance.

Sri Lanka were favourites while Jayasuriya, who was affected by cramp, was at the crease and the target came down to a comfortable 31 off the last 30 balls.

But the first delivery of the 48th over proved Jayasuriya's undoing as he went for a big hit over the top and skied a return catch to bowler Sehwag, who finished with 3-37.

Upul Chandana (11) carved Irfan Pathan to point and Maharoof was bowled by Zaheer Khan leaving the final pair to try and see Sri Lanka home.

But the task of scoring 11 off Zaheer Khan proved beyond Zoysa and Malinga as India made sure of meeting Sri Lanka again in Sunday's final.


Sri Lanka: Marvan Atapattu (captain), Sanath Jayasuriya, Saman Jayantha, Avishka Gunawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardena, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Ferveez Maharoof, Upul Chandana, Nuwan Zoysa, Lasith Malinga.

India: Sourav Ganguly (captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Rahul Dravid, Mohammad Kaif, Irfan Pathan, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Lakshmipathy Balaji.

Umpires: D Shepherd (Eng), B Doctrove (WI).




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