Sunday, 27 March 2016

#AsiaCup: India vs Sri Lanka

Match no. 7 was between India and Sri Lanka. It was the business end of the tournament. Both the teams had lot to play for. Sri Lanka was playing to stay alive in the tournament. While India was playing to book its spot in the final of Asia Cup. India had beaten Pakistan and Bangladesh in their previous matches. While Sri Lanka had won only one match that too against UAE. In their second match of the tournament, Sri Lanka faced a defeat against Bangladesh. Thus Sri Lanka wanted to recover from that loss. On the other end, India was high on confidence. India had won seven out of their last eight matches. And the reason behind this success was their bowling. Bowlers were performing really well for India.  So It was tough task ahead of Sri Lanka to beat this balanced Indian side.

India won the toss and Dhoni decided to bowl first. Dilshan and Chandimal opened the batting for Lankans. And Nehra was given the new ball. Sri Lanka was off to a good start. Chandimal hit a four through covers on the second delivery of the innings. India came back strongly after that boundary. They built the pressure on the Lankan openers by bowling some tight line. Indian bowlers just conceded 2 runs of the next 10 balls. Sri Lanka was 6-0 after two. After a slow start, Chandimal took the charge in third over. He tried to hit Nehra for a big one but nicked straight to Dhoni. Sri Lanka lost its first wicket. Chandimal and Dilshan had given good starts to Sri Lanka in previous matches. Thus, Chandimal was a big blow for Sri Lanka. Shehan Jayasuriya came in at no. 3 but he was not able to spend much time in the middle. Bumrah was bowling awesome line. He squared up Jayasuriya and picked an edge of Jayasuriya's bat. Dhoni took a simple catch and Sri Lanka was two down. Then Kapugedera joined Dilshan in the middle. They finished batting powerplay without taking much risk. Sri Lanka was 31-2 after the completion of six overs.

Hardik Pandya was brought into attack and the very first delivery, he banged in short to Dilshan. Dilshan pulled that delivery and it went straight into the hands of Ashwin. Sri Lanka lost its third straight away after powerplay. Mathews came in next. He assesed the situation and started playing according to it. Mathews and Chandimal stabilised Sri Lankan innings till the ninth over. Then they started finding the boundary every over. In tenth over, Mathews hit a staright six over Jadeja's head. In eleventh, he hit two boundaries to Pandya but before finishing that over Pandya picked up his wicket. Mathews played last delivery of that over on to his stumps. Thus Sri Lanka was 57-4 after eleven overs. After Mathews, Siriwardana joined Kapugedera in the middle. He wacked Jadeja for a six in thirteenth over. Sri Lanka reached to 100 run mark in the sixteenth over. Then Ashwin came on to bowl his third over and he straight away sent Siriwardana back into the pavilion. In the same over, Shanaka ran himself out of a free hit. Perera came in next. Sri Lanka is just wasting Perera by sending him at no. 8 or no. 9. He is very dangerous player in t20 cricket & noone in the fielding team can relax until he gets out.

In eighteenth over, Bumrah sent Kapugedera back but after that Perera found his flow. He hit a six and a four and was playing at the strike rate of more than 200. Before he could do more damage, Dhoni stumped him off Ashwin. Sri Lanka managed to score 138 runs off their twenty overs. India needed 139 runs to win the game. Rohit Sharma gave positive start to India. He hit couple of boundaries in first two overs of the innings but before the second over ended, India lost its first wicket. Dhawan was caught behind off Kulasekara. Kulasekara targeted Dhawan's weak zone and he edged one straight to the keeper. India was 11-1 after 2 overs. Kohli came in at no. 3 and decided to set his eyes. In fourth over, Kulasekara picked Rohit Sharma. This time he targeted Rohit Sharma's weak zone and forced him to edge one to first slip. He had done his homework well and he was successful to send both the openers back in the pavilion. Then Kohli and Raina started building a partnership. They were hitting the boundaries at regular intervals. Both of them were successful to frustrate Sri Lankans.

They were successful to carry on in that manner till eleventh over. They took India's score to 70 by the end of eleven overs. India was looking pretty comfortable at that stage but there was a twist in the tale. Raina skied one on the first ball of the twelfth over and Kulasekara took the catch on third attempt. India lost its third wicket on 70. Yuvraj took the guard then. He opened his account with the boundary on the second ball. Herath came on to bowl the thirteenth over and Yuvraj was waiting for him. On fifth delivery of that over he came down the track and hit straight back over Herath's head for a six. Next delivery he just dispatched over the mid wicket and it was bigger than the previous one. Yuvraj was back in his groove. In fifteenth over, Yuvraj made room and dispatched Perera for a six over covers. He brought up India's hundred with that six. He hit another boundary to Perera in seventeenth over and everyone was witnessing that the vinatge Yuvraj was back. After that boundary, Perera banged in short and picked up his wicket. He hooked that short delivery but it went straight into the hands of deep fine leg. When he came to bat the required rate was around 7 and when got out the required rate came down to 5.7. He made 35 off just 18 deliveries.

Pandya came in ahead of Dhoni. Probably, Dhoni was nursing his back. At that stage, India needed 18 runs off 19 deliveries. In eighteenth over, Pandya was knocked over by Herath on 2. India lost its fifth wicket on 125. After that wicket, Dhoni came out to finish the job. In nineteenth over, Dhoni first hit a six over bowler's head then Kohli completed his half century with a boundary. Then only 2 runs were required to win the match and this time Kohli finished it with a six. India booked its spot in the final of Asia Cup and Sri Lanka was virtually out of it. The biggest gain for India in this match was Yuvraj's form. It was value addition in this balanced Indian side. India became the first team to qualify in the final of Asia Cup and was looking pretty good to win the title.

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