India sealed their place in the final of
the 2023 Asia Cup with a thrilling victory over Sri Lanka in the Super 4s at
the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. Defending a small target of 214, the Indian
pacers made some early inroads before Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja ran
through the Sri Lankan lower order to give the Men in Blue a narrow victory by
Dunith Wellalage starred for the hosts,
taking 5/40 and scoring an unbeaten 42, but the all-rounder ran out of partners
in the chase as India ended Sri Lanka’s 13-game unbeaten streak in ODIs.
On a drier surface in stark contrast to
India’s previous encounter against Pakistan, the Indian openers gave the
visitors another strong start after Rohit Sharma won the toss. The skipper
passed the 10,000-run milestone on his way to a fluent fifty, becoming the
second-fastest batter after Virat Kohli in ODIs to achieve this feat.
However, the introduction of Dunith
Wellalage in the 12th over derailed the Indian innings. The finger-spinner ran
riot on a pitch assisting spin, removing five of the Indian top six. The
left-armer cleaned up Shubman Gill with a beauty off his first delivery,
getting the ball to turn past the outside edge and hit the off-stump, before
sending back Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in his next two overs.
KL Rahul and Ishan Kishan temporarily
steadied the ship with a half-century stand, but Wellalage returned to wreak
havoc, removing the keeper and Hardik Pandya to leave the Men in Blue reeling
at 172/6. India’s trial by spin continued as off-spinner Charith Asalanka
chipped in with an extraordinary spell of 4 for 18 in nine overs to skittle the
visitors for 213.
Defending a low score, the Indian seamers
struck with the new ball to even the scales. Jasprit Bumrah had Pathum Nissanka
nicking off in the third over. The pacer also outfoxed Kusal Mendis with an
expertly disguised slower ball before Mohammed Siraj chipped in with the wicket
of Dimuth Karunaratne.
Sri Lanka ended the powerplay at 39/3 and
continued to lose wickets through the middle. Kuldeep Yadav extended his fine
form, dismissing Samarawickrama and Asalanka in successive overs, while
Ravindra Jadeja got rid of the captain Dasun Shanaka, restricting the Islanders
to 99/6 at the halfway mark.
However, Dhananjaya de Silva and Dunith
Wellalage guided Sri Lanka out of their hole with a timely half-century stand,
taking the hosts within touching distance of a memorable win. At 162/6, the
game began to slip away from India’s grasp, but de Silva played a rash shot to
hole out to Shubman Gill at mid-on. His dismissal opened the floodgates for the
Men in Blue as Kuldeep Yadav and Hardik Pandya wrapped up the final three
wickets in quick succession to give India a hard-fought win by 41 runs.