India secured its place in the finals of CB Series with a well-rounded 7- wicket victory against Sri Lanka in the 11th ODI played at Bellerive Oval, Hobart on Tuesday, February 26, 2008. India executed its plan to perfection, to make Sri Lanka find its way back home by outplaying them in every single department of the game. Sri Lanka too, on the other hand, did not help its cause much, by coming up with one of its most regrettable performances in a must-win game.
To begin with, India got lucky with the toss once again and decided to field first, and capitalized it well with an early wicket of Perera. Sri Lanka, however, steadied its stance quickly enough, with Jayasuriya and Sangakkara making their stay comfortable on the crease with a half-century plus stand for the 2nd wicket. Having lost only a single wicket for the total of 72 runs, Sri Lanka looked all set to pile up a huge score for India to chase but the train of events chose a different route from here on. With Sangakkara attempting a cheeky shot off a shorter one from Kumar, Dhoni was only too happy to lap it up. The youngster continued to make inroads in the Sri Lankan batting line up by claiming two more wickets in quick succession. Sensing blood, Pathan soon tempted Jayasuriya into looping up one, only to be collected by Dhoni with relative ease. Ishant was not to be left behind either, as he claimed the scalps of Dilshan and Vaas to leave Sri Lanka teetering on 93 runs for no less than 7 wickets. There was no easy way for Sri Lanka to fight its way back in the game with the writing on the wall only too legible for anyone to read. Braving all odds, however, Kaupgedera stood his ground and took Sri Lanka past what would have been a most ignominious total otherwise, with his strategic 57-run knock. As India made its way in the Sri Lankan tail, however, there was nothing much that Kapugedera could do, who ultimately succumbed to the pressure himself as Sri Lanka was bundled out for a paltry cricket score of 179 runs in 47.1 overs. Sri Lanka was now required to exploit the best of its bowling potential in order to make an impact with the Indian batting line-up.
The Indian innings began with Uthappa and Tendulkar being off to a flourishing start, which was soon to be cut short with a remarkable one from Malinga to help Uthappa find his way back to the pavilion. Coming up next, Gambhir soon found himself comfortable on the crease with Tendulkar calling all the shots at the other end. There was no sign of worry or fatigue as the duo manifested an exemplary combination of technique and aggression in their century plus stand for the 2nd wicket. Little Maestro was sure looking like a man set free as he entertained everyone to the sight of a few picture-perfect strokes. Gambhir chose to remain on the backfoot, on the other hand, and played with a little more discretion. The reality was, perhaps, a little late to seep in with the Sri Lankans who were desperately seeking another wicket, which came in the form of Tendulkar off Muralitharan but the course of the game had already been decided. With the Indian scorecard reading 120 runs for 2 wickets and only 180 runs to complete, Gambhir and Yuvraj upped the tempo to finish off the game as fast as possible. In the bargain, India lost another wicket in the form of Yuvraj with victory close at hand but it mattered little in the final analysis as India wrapped up a comfortable 7-wicket victory by reaching the required target with 17.4 overs to spare.
With India and Australia saddled in for the finals, Sri Lanka would be making its last appearance for the series against Australia on Friday, which would be more of a formality than anything else.