Asia Cup 2022: India miss again, lose close game to Sri Lanka

“Bad shot to be honest,” Gautam Gambhir would say on air and it pretty much sums up Virat Kohli’s dismissal. “He went too across instead of straighter,” Gambhir would add.

Trying to ride on his new dalliance with an aggressive approach from the start of his innings, Kohli went for a shot that he usually doesn’t play: the swipe across the line. Normally, when he wants to hit a length ball from a seamer in that direction, he would chose his signature swat-flick. The ball from the left-handed Dilshan Madhushanka landed on a length on the middle-stump line and uprooted the middle stump, as Kohli failed to connect.

Even when well-settled, this is a shot that he usually doesn’t play and it’s not a surprise that he couldn’t make contact.

-Sriram Veera

Theekshana’s inswinger from hell

For a while now, those who practice the art of carrom ball keep talking about the reverse-carrom, the one that breaks into the right-handed batsmen. Maheesh Theekshana has that version down to a T – – especially with the new ball, he makes that ball swing in to the right-hander.

It’s quite a cool ball. Theekshana imparts a lot of backspin on the ball, with the way he squeezes it out at release. And the new ball then basically behaves like released by a swing bowler: that backspin aids the ball to swing, and Theekshana’s fore-finger has already given it the inwards direction. The story goes that he worked on the carrom ball for three years before he would try in competitive games. And these was at school cricket, which traditionally is strong in Sri Lanka.

He practised the carrom ball for three years, until he fully mastered it. He didn’t try the ball even once in a school game until he was sure he could land it properly. Though they were school games, he was conscious to not waste the balls,” his mentor Chinthaka Perera had once told The Indian Express. That ball from hell stunned KL Rahul. He was down the track and the ball started from well outside off but began to curve back in alarmingly, dipping to crash-land on the toe. With the way he had gone down the pitch, Rahul had no chance to counter it. The ball swung in so much that he couldn’t even get his bat down and ahead of his boot in time.

-Sriram Veera

“India have the poorest attack in these top 4 teams,” says S Badrinath, former India batsman

Former India and CSK middle-order batsman, S Badrinath on Tamil commentary on Star Sports didn’t mince his words about Indian bowling attack.

“Apart from Bhubaneshwar Kumar, there is nothing really to this Indian fast bowling attack. India has the poorest attack (the current one) in the top 4 teams today. For Sri Lanka, the spin attack is better. Pakistan is of course best. AFghanistan have a great spin attack. There is no penetration as a fast bowler – you need swing or pace, and I don’t see that in this Indian attack. in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, and Harshal Patel, this unit struggles. They just took 3 fast bowling options for this tournament. Mistake. And Deepak Chahar isn’t feeling well.”

-Sriram Veera

Kusal Mendis’s stunner

Ashwin’s second ball was actually pretty good. It had a lovely away drift and it also turned in. But Kusal Mendis absolutely walloped it on a bent knee over extra cover for a stunning six. He stretched forward, waited on a bent knee, and down came the bat, and connected fabulously well. As if there had been no drift, as if there had been no turn, as if it was a over-pitched ball that did nothing. The length demanded he had to biff it somewhat on the up, but he did everything well to smash it over the boundary.

-Sriram Veera

The Kohli Kiss to Chahal

Yuzvendra Chahal had taken just one wicket in three games thus far, and was in some pressure. Two overs ticked by. Nothing much worked. More pressure. Then for some reason Nissanka, who batted mighty impressively, went for a flat revere sweep with backward point and wide-ish short third man in place – had he tried an aerial reverse, it would have been understandable to an extent – and found Rohit Sharma at point. Chahal’s day was beginning to turn. He then had the next batsman Charith Asalanka miscuing a heave-ho. Then came his best ball to Kusal Mendis. A front-of-hand slider that skidded on a length and hurried towards leg stump. Mendis had given himself some room and couldn’t get his bat down in time to escape the lbw.

In walked in Virat Kohli to the celebratory huddle, drew Chahal close to himself, and planted a long kiss on the head.

-Sriram Veera

Arshdeep bowling full, Akram couldn’t believe it

Wasim Akram didn’t like what was seeing. Arshdeep, in his second over which was India’s 5th, was bowling full, desperately hoping the ball would swing. Tough luck the ball wasn’t bowling in the air or off the wicket. The Sri Lanka openers were happy, they were hitting through the line, spanking the ball on the up, they were generally toying with bowling.

The Sultan of Swing, parked far from the central square, had spotted that the ball had stopped a while back. Arshdeep was way too raw to be that sharp. Akram too wasn’t blaming the young boy, for whom this Dubai trip was proving to be a nightmare. He said this was something the captain or the bowling coach should tell him. Avesh Khan in the last game and Arshdeep now had been found wanting. From the commentary box the fingers were pointed to Paras Mhambray. If things didn’t improve the voice would grow. Meanwhile, Arshdeep went for 18 runs.

-Sandeep Dwivedi

Slider, the saviour?

An animated Rohit Sharma had a long chat with Chahal at the start of his final over. On strike was Kushal Midas, and that’s not a spelling mistake. The Lankan opener was running away with the match. A defeat for India here would mean the curtain on their campaign would be half-down, make it three-fourth. Chahal was lucky to have retained his place in the side. He was having a terrible Asia Cup. Pundits wanted young leggie Ravi Bishnoi to play the game and be Ashwin’s spin partner. And Chahal bowled the most important ball of his career. He got Kushal lbw with a slider. With the wicket he might have saved India from the surgical strikes of the trolls.

-Sandeep Dwivedi

Miss, Miss, Miss

Two needed from two balls. Shanaka on strike, Rajapaksha on the other end. India almost took the game to the final ball. But they missed, missed and missed again. Arshdeep missed the edge of Shanka’s bat by a whisker and the ball travelled to wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant. Shanaka scooted to the non-striker for a blind desperate run, a bye. Pant had a clear view of the three sticks and had a chance to get a run-out Rajapaksha. He aimed and threw the ball but was off the target. The ball reached Arshdeep, who was mid-pitch in his follow through. The bowler saw Shanaka struggling to reach the non-striker’s end. He too had a clear view of his target. Should he throw or take the game to the final ball. He took a chance. Another miss and Lanka was home. It’s that kind of tournament for India.
Miss, Miss, Miss.

-Sandeep Dwivedi

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