Indian Cricketers in jovial mood after victory/Photo: BCCI
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA: After speedster Mohammed Siraj’s fiery spell decimated Sri Lanka, the opening duo of Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan scored a flawless fifty-run partnership as India won the Asia Cup for the eighth time.
Leading India’s fast bowling attack, Siraj ran through the Sri Lanka top-order in a dazzling performance in the summit clash at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Sunday.
It took a little more than two hours for India to lift the trophy in style. Sri Lanka fans were stunned into silence by their team’s performance. The Men in Blue lifted the Asia Cup trophy after five years.
Siraj had a dream spell as the entire Sri Lanka team was back in pavilion in 15.2 overs for 50 runs. Siraj took six wickets in seven overs, his best performance in ODIs.
Needing just 51 runs, Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan made no mistakes and started with back-to-back boundaries off Matheesha Pathirana’s over.
In the third over of the game, Gill sliced three successive boundaries off Pramod Madushan, taking India’s total to 32/0.
On the first delivery of 7th over, Kishan took a single and took India home with an assertive 10-wicket victory.
Jasprit Bumrah set the tone of the game by making his impact on the third ball of his first over.
Siraj followed it up with a maiden over to lay the perfect platform for a spell that left the entire stadium awe-struck.
On the first ball of his second over, Siraj sent back Pathum Nissanka for 2. The second ball clicked 143 kmph and Samarawickrama decided to play it safe.
The third delivery, however, swung sharply back into the right-handed batter, pinned his legs right in front of the stumps and sent him back for a two-ball duck.
Sri Lanka’s match-winner against Pakistan, Charith Asalanka stepped in to keep Sri Lanka’s innings from falling apart.
Siraj baited him and lured him to play the drive shot. Asalanka took the bait and the ball went straight to Ishan Kishan at covers.
With hat-trick on his mind, Siraj once again tried to go for the inswinging delivery to the newcomer Dhananjaya de Silva. A gentle push on the vacant side of the field sent the ball for a four.
The pacer came back on the next delivery, found a faint edge and carried comfortably in the gloves of Rahul.
Siraj completed an over in which he took four wickets, something rare in ODI cricket and more so in a title match.
However, he wasn’t done yet, nor was his ‘Sui’ celebration. He shattered the stumps completely beating skipper Dausn Shanaka and sending him for a duck.
This was the first time India took six wickets in the first 10 overs in an ODI match.
Bumrah went out of the attack and Hardik Pandya came in to take his place alongside the fire-breathing Siraj.
Kusal Mendis who looked a bit settled on the pitch was Siraj’s next victim. A fast inswinging delivery and Mendis went for the drive but got en inside edge and the ball wrecked the stumps.
Mendis walked back towards the dugout after scoring 17 from 34 balls.
Dunith Wellalage, who was Sri Lanka’s guiding light against India in their Super Four encounter, both with bat and ball, fell short this time.
Hardik joined the party to dismiss Wellalage with a directed bouncer at the body. The batter tried to move out of the way but it was too late and the ball touched his gloves and lobed towards the keeper Rahul.
Pandya struck once again sending Pramod Madushan back for 1(6), and he followed up on the next ball to send Matheesha Pathirana back for a golden duck to end Sri Lanka’s innings.
Sri Lanka had chosen to bat but the decision backfired.