India secured a commanding 41-run victory over Sri Lanka at Colombo’s R. Premadasa Stadium on Tuesday, earning themselves a well-deserved place in the final of the 2023 Asia Cup.
With four points accrued from their first two games, India’s victory left Sri Lanka and Pakistan battling it out for the coveted final spot in this continental tournament.
The match began with Jasprit Bumrah making a breakthrough, despite a momentary scare when he twisted his ankle. Dasun Nissanka (6 off 7 balls) was cleanly caught behind by KL Rahul, who took over wicketkeeping duties from Ishan Kishan.
Kusal Mendis (15 off 16 balls) was the next to fall as Bumrah struck again, prompting the Sri Lankan batter to offer a straightforward catch to substitute fielder Suryakumar Yadav.
Mohammed Siraj also joined the action, dismissing Dimuth Karunaratne (2 off 18 balls) as he edged the ball to Shubman Gill in the slips.
By the end of the powerplay, Sri Lanka was reeling at 39-3, primarily due to the dominant performance of the Indian pacers.
As Rohit Sharma introduced spinners into the attack, Sri Lanka found it increasingly challenging to score runs.
Kuldeep Yadav, with excellent glovework from Rahul, accounted for the dismissal of Sadeera Samarawickrama (17 off 31 balls), and he later trapped Charith Asalanka (22 off 35 balls) lbw, with Rahul’s outstanding work behind the stumps playing a crucial role.
After losing half their side, Dhananjaya de Silva and captain Dasun Shanaka tried to stage a comeback, but Rohit Sharma brought back Ravindra Jadeja, who removed Shanaka.
Dhananjaya and Dunith Wellalage fought valiantly, forging a 63-run partnership off 75 balls, but Jadeja once again proved to be the difference maker.
Hardik Pandya, who bowled tirelessly throughout the innings, managed to dismiss Maheesh Theekshana, thanks to a stunning catch by Suryakumar at mid-on.
Kuldeep Yadav then clean bowled Kasun Rajitha, and Matheesha Pathirana was soon dismissed as well. Wellalage remained unbeaten on 42.
In the earlier innings, Indian batters struggled against the spinning duo of Dunith Wellalage and part-timer Charith Asalanka on a turning track, posting a below-par total of 213 after choosing to bat.
Left-arm spinner Wellalage (5/40) and off-spinner Asalanka (4/18) dismantled India’s star-studded lineup.
The highlight of India’s innings was the opening partnership between Rohit Sharma, who scored 53 off 48 balls, and Shubman Gill (19), adding 80 runs in just 12 overs. This partnership reminded fans of India’s dominant performance against Pakistan on the previous Monday when they scored a massive 356 for two.
During his innings, Rohit Sharma achieved a significant personal milestone by becoming the sixth Indian batsman to score 10,000 runs in ODIs, a feat he celebrated with a majestic six off pacer Kasun Rajita.
Other Indian batsmen in this elite club include Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli, and MS Dhoni.
However, the introduction of Wellalage changed the course of the game as he halted India’s batting charge. Gill was his first victim, and he continued to shine by dismissing key batsmen like Kohli, Rahul, and Pandya to claim his maiden five-wicket haul in ODI cricket.
The uneven bounce and turn on the pitch proved challenging for the Indian batsmen, and Asalanka capitalized on this by wreaking havoc.
His delivery to dismiss Ravindra Jadeja was particularly impressive, as it turned and bounced sharply to take an edge off Jadeja’s bat, nestling safely in the gloves of Kusal Mendis.
India’s next Super 4 clash will be against Bangladesh on Thursday at the same venue.