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India, Sri Lanka prove Twenty20 cricket pedigree

NOTTINGHAM, June 11 – Reigning champions India and fellow favourites Sri Lanka wrapped up their World Twenty20 first round assignments with convincing wins at Trent Bridge on Wednesday.GAMBHIR_HIT_467585671.jpg
India warmed up for the second round Super Eights by crushing hapless Ireland by eight wickets while veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya smashed 81 as Sri Lanka defeated West Indies by 15 runs.

Left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan claimed four for 19, including three wickets in seven balls, to restrict Ireland to 112-8 in a match reduced to 18-overs-a-side due to rain.

Young opener Rohit Sharma then hit an unbeaten 52 off 45 balls as India romped home with 15 balls to spare to end the preliminary league with two successive wins.

Gautam Gamhir chipped in with 37 in a first-wicket stand of 77 with Sharma in front of a sell-out crowd at Trent Bridge.

India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said there were still areas to improve.

"Every game you start from scratch. The bowlers did very well and it’s a real positive that they are doing their jobs. We can do better in the field. It wasn’t our best day," said Dhoni.

"I’m talking about 85-90 percent efficiency, but we can do it."

The Irish, surprise qualifiers for the Super Eights after beating Bangladesh, never recovered from Zaheer’s triple strike which reduced them to 28-4 by the seventh over.

Andrew White top-scored with 29 as four of the top six batsmen failed to reach double figures.

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Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha picked up two for 18 in his four overs.

Jayasuriya and Tillekeratne Dilshan hammered an opening stand of 124 as Sri Lanka eased past the West Indies.

The duo lifted Sri Lanka to 192-5, a total the West Indies chased bravely despite the absence of explosive opener and captain Chris Gayle, who missed the Group C match due to a knee injury.

The West Indians ended at 177-5, fired by a spectacular counter-attack by Dwayne Bravo and Ramnaresh Sarwan, who put on 77 off 59 balls for the fifth wicket.

Bravo hit a 38-ball 51 that included five fours and two sixes, while Sarwan remained unbeaten on 28.

"The main thing today was to get momentum and I’m happy with the way the guys played," said Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara.

"Sanath is a genius and he was ably supported by Dilshan. They proved that with a good start you can put up a very defendable total."

West Indies skipper Denesh Ramdin said his team will be back on form in the Super Eights when Gayle will return from injury.

"We needed to get a good start but we had to chase the game. We’ll play hard cricket in the Super Eights and we’ll bounce back."

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Left-handed Jayasuriya, at 39 the oldest player in the 12-nation tournament, smashed 81 off 47 balls that was studded with 10 boundaries and three sixes.

The Super Eights begin on Thursday here with injury-hit New Zealand facing Ireland while England meet South Africa with Kevin Pietersen coming face to face again with the country of his birth.

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