The Nidahas trophy 2018 is approaching the final stage of the tournament with India having qualified early as one of the two finalists. Bangladesh won the last league match yesterday against Sri Lanka, that too in the last over, thus joining India in the final.
This is not the first time India will be playing the finals of the Nidahas trophy. This tournament dates back to 1998 when it was first organized to celebrate the 50 years of Sri Lanka’s independence as well as Sri Lanka Cricket. The tournament was organized as a series of ODI fixtures between India, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh.
The round robin stage consisted of nine qualifying matches out of which 5 were abandoned due to rain. In the group stage, Sri Lanka won three matches while India won the remaining one.
The Indian team, led by Mohammad Azharuddin, defeated Sri Lanka in the nail-biting final by just 6 runs. The final was played at R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo on July 7, 1998. India won the toss and elected to bat first.
Then came the opening pair for India, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar and Sourav Chandidas Ganguly. Sri Lanka started their attack with bowling greats such as Wickramasinghe, Kumar Dharmasena (currently an ICC umpire), Muttiah Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya.
The two Indian openers smashed the Sri Lankan bowlers all around the park. Tendulkar & Ganguly made a record breaking partnership of 252 runs consisting of 14 fours and 4 sixes. This became the highest partnership in ODIs for the first wicket.
In the last ball of the 44th over, Sanath Jayasuriya took the wicket of Tendulkar. Before being stumped out, Sachin scored 128 runs with 8 fours and 2 sixes.
The next over from Muralitharan brought double joy in the Sri Lankan camp as Ganguly too gave his wicket away on the first ball after scoring 109 runs.
India scored 307 runs for the loss of 6 wickets in 50 overs. Jayasuriya was the pick of the bowlers who took 2 wickets in his 9 overs.
Sri Lankan Innings
In reply, Sri Lanka came out all guns blazing. Their openers Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana put together an opening stand of 59 runs, before Ajit Agarkar removed both the openers in the 9th and 11th overs respectively.
Aravinda de Silva steadied the Sri Lankan chase with an inning of 105 runs consisting of 10 fours. Marvan Atapattu and Roshan Mahanama too contributed with a couple of cameos but in the end the score proved to be too much for them.
Agarkar finished with four wickets while giving away 53 runs.
In the last over, Sri Lanka needed 11 runs to win the final. Agarkar and Venkatesh Prasad had already finished their quota of 10 overs, so the job was given to Anil Kumble.
Wickramasinghe and Muralitharan were the last two batsmen in the Lankan innings. Wickramasinghe was run out on the third ball of the final over by Hrishikesh Kanitkar, and Sri Lanka were all out for 301 runs in 49.3 overs. India had won the Singer-Akai Nidahas Trophy 1998 by 6 runs.
De Silva was the highest scorer for Sri Lanka, with 105 runs. Tendulkar was awarded the Man of the Match for his scintillating knock of 128 runs, while De Silva was awarded Man of the Series for scoring 368 runs in the tournament.
The last match of the 2018 tournament is to be played on March 18 between India and Bangladesh. Who knows what surprises it is going to spring on the viewers? One thing is for sure - the final is going to be an electrifying contest between the two sides.