Close Call

Updated: Jul 30 2004, 03:41am hrs
A cliffhanger of a match! Close, thrilling, nail biting, perhaps no adjective will quite do justice to Tuesdays match between India and Sri Lanka. Virender Sehwag and Sanath Jayasuriya, two of the most entertaining cricketers in the world, once again showed how they could make fans cheer one moment and hold their heads in despair the next.

The match was an excellent reminder of just what these men can do on their day. And Tuesday happened to be their day. If Sehwag took the Lankan bowlers to the cleaners when India batted, Jayasuriya paid it back with interest when his turn came. With 130 runs from 132 balls, the former Lankan skipper had almost knocked India out of the tournament. But the master blaster from Najafgarh had more tricks up his sleeve. A welcome 81 runs was topped with three vital wickets, including that of Jayasuriya at a crucial stage. Thanks to him, India snatched a win from the jaws of defeat and a place in the finals.

The match was a perfect example of the old saying in cricket a match is not over till the last ball is bowled. Zaheer Khan could, perhaps, best tell us what its like to bowl the last ball in a do-or-die situation. Eleven runs from six balls was all that Sri Lanka needed. Victory seemed in sight but Zaheer rose to the occasion. He redeemed himself after the earlier mauling he received from Jayasuriya to concede only six runs in the final over under pressure, also taking a wicket in the bargain.

Tuesdays match was a good curtain raiser to the final of the Asia Cup 2004 to be played between the two teams on Sunday. If the same humdinger were to be repeated, it will be a perfect end to a tournament that had otherwise become one of the most boring tournaments in the recent past. Regardless of who wins, memories of one-sided encounters courtesy a handful of minnows and some indifferent form shown by a couple of top teams in the earlier stages of the tournament suddenly became a distant memory. Ready for Sunday, everyone