India level series with tense victory

DAMBULLA, August 20, 2008 (AFP) – Mahendra Singh Dhoni capped Zaheer Khan’s devastating spell with a crucial 39 as India posted a tense three-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the second one-day international here on Wednesday. Left-arm seamer Zaheer ran through the top order in his incisive opening spell to finish with 4-21 as India bundled Sri Lanka out for a meagre 142. He was brilliantly backed by paceman Praveen Kumar (3-34).

But India skipped a few heartbeats before achieving the modest target with more than 10 overs to spare to level the five-match series 1-1.

They were wobbling at 75-5 after seamers Thilan Thushara and Nuwan Kulasekara shared four wickets, but skipper Dhoni and debutant Subramaniam Badrinath (27 not out) held their nerve under pressure.

When Dhoni inside-edged paceman Dilhara Fernando’s delivery on to his stumps, his team were just eight runs short of the win with four wickets in hand.

“Zaheer did the job for us as he bowled in right areas. Credit also goes to Badrinath as he had not played Sri Lankan spinners Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan before,” said Dhoni.

“We needed this victory. There was pressure on us, especially after losing opener Gautam Gambhir (stif