Sri Lanka triumph as India's fans run riot

CRICKET WORLD CUP: De Silva's batting and Jayasuriya's bowling rewarded as aggression overcomes loss of two wickets in first over
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The Independent Online
reports from Calcutta

Sri Lanka 251-8; India 120-8 (Match abandoned; Sri Lanka awarded victory)

After a day of searing temperatures India's city of joy last night became its city of shame as a 110,000 capacity crowd at Eden Gardens brought the World Cup semi-final between India and Sri Lanka to a standstill under a hail of bottles. The crowd, angry with India's tame batting, eventually forced the game to be abandoned, and in a move unprecedented in Cup history, the referee, Clive Lloyd, awarded the match to Sri Lanka.

Having already taken the players from the field once, to give the police time to quieten spectators down, Lloyd had no hesitation in calling the game off once more glass bottles were thrown as the players returned to the field.

"I said to the umpires, and they agreed with me, that we should try and restart the game, but that if anything else was thrown we'd stop," Lloyd said. "I was disappointed in the crowd's behaviour. I know they were down, but that's the way the game goes."

The Zimbabwean umpire Ian Robinson said it had been a scary experience for those on the field. "One glass bottle came out of the members' area and over the sightscreen." he said. "It was probably thrown by someone who had paid 500 dollars for his ticket and was pretty annoyed."

Lloyd also stated he was disappointed with the standard of security. "I'd asked for police to mingle with the crowd," he said. "It wasn't adequately policed." He was critical of the surface, too, describing it as "a bad pitch. The ball turned too much for a semi-final."

Considering there were at least 6,000 policemen present, comprising three types including the crack Rapid Action Force, Lloyd's accusation on security is one that Jagmohan Dalmiya, the convenor secretary of Pilcom, the tournament organisers, will have to answer, presumably to the International Cricket Council who must now be forced to hold an inquiry.

Boorish behaviour can never be tolerated, whatever the reason, especially when you realise that to the impoverished majority of this vast dark city, the sight of those four massive blazing towers is a source of pride that despite, being close enough to see, is as distant to them as Shangri-la. It is as much a slur upon them by those lucky enough to have tickets, as it is on the game of cricket.

For Calcuttans, it was indeed a black day and their reputation as sophisticates and connoisseurs of all things cricket has been badly tarnished.

Not so Sri Lanka, despite it being the third time they have been awarded a game by default - though some might argue that Mohammed Azharuddin, the Indian captain, did that when he won the toss, putting his opponents in on a newly relaid pitch that later turned square.

However, in an otherwise strident march to the final, this was undoubtedly their finest hour. They completely outplayed India, despite another excellent performance from Sachin Tendulkar with both bat and ball. Such has been the speed of Sri Lanka's progress, it is a benchmark that is changing weekly and there is no reason why, fuelled by the high of yesterday's win, they cannot top it once more in Lahore on Sunday.

Before this game, it had been Sri Lanka's opening batsmen, and in particular Sanath Jayasuriya, who had propelled their team to victory. Ironically, both fell to successive deliveries in the day's first over, caught by third man slashing at Javagal Srinath.

Faced with such a savage blow, many teams would have then resorted to a strategy based on caution. Not Sri Lanka who, perhaps reading the pitch better than Azharuddin had done, realised that runs were best got when the ball was hard and the seamers were bowling.

In a batting display as audacious as it was sublime, Aravinda de Silva assaulted India's bowling, timing his drives with unerring precision as he brutally punched holes in the field. When a batsman of this class is as inspired as De Silva was here, there is little a bowler can do except hope for a false stroke.

Azharuddin, however, was less charitable, and several times he chastised his attack for sins they had not really committed. This paled in comparison to the response the Indian skipper got from the crowd when he later went for nought, and his return to the pavilion was accompanied by chants of "Down with Azharuddin".

Chasing Sri Lanka's total of 251, India did not seem badly placed, when at the 20-over mark they were 83 for 1, with Tendulkar his usual fluent self. Unfortunately for India, it was hereabouts that Arjuna Ranatunga decided to introduce Jayasuriya's left-arm spin.

Bowling over the wicket into the rough outside leg stump, Jayasuriya had Tendulkar stumped after a lightning bit of opportunism by the keeper, Romesh Kaluwitharana, as Tendulkar left his ground after the ball had come off his pads.

With Azharuddin, Manjrekar, Srinath and Ajaysinhji Jadeja all falling in the space of seven overs, India were never able to mount a serious counter-assault. When the game was called off they were listing on 120 for 8, having lost their last seven wickets for just 22 runs.

Earlier, as searing daylight turned to a kind of warm glow under tungsten, Sri Lanka had also appeared to lose their way. With the heroic Roshan Mahanama unable to return, suffering terrible cramps and disorientation brought about by dehydration, his team failed to capitalise over the last 10 overs.

It was only later when the ball began to grip and turn that everyone realised how ample that total was. And what a gargantuan blunder Azharuddin and his team of advisers had made by giving their opponents first use of the pitch.

Calcutta scoreboard

(India won toss)

SRI LANKA

S T Jayasuriya c Prasad b Srinath 1

R S Kaluwitharana c Manjrekar b Srinath 0

A P Gurusinha c Kumble b Srinath 1

P A de Silva b Kumble 66

R S Mahanama retired ill 58

*A Ranatunga lbw b Tendulkar 35

H P Tillekeratne c Tendulkar b Prasad 32

H D P K Dharmasena b Tendulkar 9

W P U C J Vaas run out 23

G P Wickremasinghe not out 4

M Muralitharan not out 5

Extras (b1, lb10, w4, nb2) 17

Total (for 8, 50 overs) 251

Fall: 1-1, 2-1, 3-35, 4-85, 5-168, 6-206, 7-236, 8-244.

Bowling: Srinath 7-1-34-3; Kumble 10-0-51-1; Prasad 8-0-50-1; Kapoor 10-0-40-0; Jadeja 5-0-31-0; Tendulkar 10-1-34-2.

INDIA

S R Tendulkar st Kaluwitharana

b Jayasuriya 65

N S Sidhu c Jayasuriya b Vaas 3

S V Manjrekar b Jayasuriya 25

*M Azharuddin c & b Dharmasena 0

V G Kambli not out 10

J Srinath run out 6

A D Jadeja b Jayasuriya 0

N R Mongia c Jayasuriya b de Silva 1

A R Kapoor c de Silva b Muralitharan 0

Extras (lb5, w5) 10

Total (for 8, 34.1 overs) 120

Fall: 1-8, 2-98, 3-99, 4-101, 5-110, 6-115, 7-120, 8-120.

Did not bat: A R Kumble, B K V Prasad.

Bowling: Wickremasinghe 5-0-24-0; Vaas 6-1-23-1; Muralitharan 7.1-0-29-1; Dharmasena 7-0-24-1; Jayasuriya 7- 1-12-3; De Silva 2-0-3-1.

Umpires: S G Dunne and C J Mitchley.

Match referee: C H Lloyd.

SRI LANKA AWARDED VICTORY

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