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Raina half century vital for Indian hopes

Suresh Raina hit a vital half century as India bounced back after a disappointing defeat against the West Indies to keep their hopes of reaching the semi finals alive with an impressive batting display against Sri Lanka.

After Sunday’s crushing defeat against the hosts; India retuned to the batsman friendly Beausejour Stadium much to the relief of the Indian openers who suffered a torrid time in Barbados.

Raina; who struggled with the pace and bounce at the Kensington Oval topped scored for Indian with a vital contribution of 63 which came from just 47 balls including 7 fours and 1 six.

Lasith Malinga was once against the start bowling for Sri Lanka taking 2 wickets in his 4 overs while only conceding 25 runs as India reached 163-5 at the end of their innings.

He was supported by Gautam Gambhir (42) and MS Dhoni (23) as India looked to set Sri Lanka a large run chase knowing they had to win by 20 runs in order to leap frog Sri Lanka in Group F.

With so much riding on the outcome of the game Murali Vijay was replaced by Dinesh Karthik at the top of the order but his partnership with Gambhir only contributed 30 runs before he was dismissed by Malinga in the 4th over.

With Karthik (13) gone; Gambhir was joined at the crease by Raina and the pair built an excellent partnership of 66 from just 41 balls which turned the game in India’s favour thanks to some bug hitting from Raina.

With Gambhir back in the dugout MS Dhoni joined Raina at the crease with India 96-2.

Having promoted himself up the order Dhoni wasted little time in getting going thanks to a massive six of the bowling of Sanath Jayasuriya at the start of the 12th over.

The pair went on to build a partnership of 48 runs before Raina’s excellent innings was ended after he was caught by Mahela Jayawardene out on the midwicket boundary giving Thilan Thushara the big break through.

With Raina gone Sri Lanka increased the pressure on India by dismissing Yuvraj Singh (1) and Yusuf Pathan (13) as the 2007 champions innings went off the boil.

With 163 runs behind them the Indian bowlers will now have to restrict Sri Lanka to a total of less then 143 runs in their run chase to leap frog them in Group F to keep their semi final hopes alive.

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