Mahendra Singh Dhoni once again lived upto the 'Captain Cool' tag as he held his nerve to almost singlehandedly guide India to yet another title triumph with a narrow one-wicket win over Sri Lanka in a thrilling final of the the Tri-nation ODI series here.
Needing 15 from the last over in their chase of 202, Dhoni smashed Shaminda Eranga for two sixes and a boundary in just four balls to finish off the game in style at the Queen's Park Oval.
The result also meant that the Champions Trophy winners' recent run of success in the 50-over format continued.
As the captain slammed Eranga over extra cover for the winning shot, the Indian crowd erupted in joy and the jubilant players ran down the pitch to flank the man of the moment, who remained unbeaten on 45 off 52 balls.
Coming in at the fall of Suresh Raina's wicket with India in a spot of bother at 145 for five in the 35th over, Dhoni added important runs with lower-order and in the process hit five fours and two sixes.
Dhoni was calculative and waited till the end before launching that one final assault which left the Lankans shell-shocked as the islanders fancied their chances after Rangana Herath's four-wicket burst on a pitch that was not conducive for strokeplay.
While Dhoni played the match-winning knock, Rohit Sharma, who hit five fours and a six, top-scored for India with 58 off 89 balls. Raina contributed 32 off 27 balls. In pursuit of what seemed like a modest target, India lost Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli early to Eranga.
Sharma found an ally in Dinesh Karthik with whom he added 50 runs for the third wicket before the wicketkeeper-batsman was dismissed for 23. Sharma then forged a 62-run stand in eight overs with Raina to consolidate India's position. Sensing the need to bid time in the middle, Sharma and Raina played sensible cricket before the Mumbaikar was done in by a Herath ball that kept low before hitting the stumps.
This was Herath's second wicket, after he sent back Karthik who was caught by Mahela Jayawardene at slip.
Desperate to put India under more pressure, Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara appealed against Dhoni for what they felt was obstruction of field while running for a single. After responding late to Jadeja's call, Dhoni was running towards the striker's end and came in between the throw and the stumps. Both the SL players were convinced that Dhoni changed his direction, but the umpires thought otherwise.
The Lankans soon found reasons to cheer as Herath took two wickets off successive balls in his final over to leave India precariously placed at 152/7 in 38 overs.
With Sri Lanka closing in on India's tail, Dhoni decided to use the long handle, which was evident from that thick outside edge that flew over the first-slip for a four. He then whacked Malinga's full toss delivery through deep midwicket, before pushing Mathews for a four through the gap between point and short third man. Dhoni saw Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and R Vinay Kumar getting dismissed in quick succession, but himself showed nerves of steel to steer his side home in company of number 11 Ishant Sharma.
Earlier, India benefited immensely after Sri Lanka's middle and lower-order batsmen committed hara-kiri, which saw the team lose eight wickets for just 30 runs before being bundled out for 201. Sent into bat, Sri Lanka were sitting pretty at 171 for two in the 38th over, but lack of application saw them being packed off with seven balls left in their innings.
Jadeja was the most successful Indian bowlers returning figures of 4/24 while there were two wickets apiece for Bhuvneshwar, Ishant and Ashwin.
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Updated Date: Jul 12, 2013 08:29:19 IST