With the win, India became the first team to qualify for the Asia Cup 2023 final.
After firing 356 at the R Premadasa Stadium a night before, India batting imploded against the quality Sri Lankan spin attack as Rohit Sharma and co. were bundled out for 213 on a bowling friendly surface.
Registering an unwarranted record, India for the first time ever, gave away all their wickets to the opposition spinners. While Dunith Wellalage grabbed a fifer, Charith Asalanka took four as India batters looked out of sorts.
However, taking full advantage of the conditions, the India bowlers went all out, wrapping up the Sri Lanka innings for 172 inside 42 overs. Kuldeep once again starred with the ball, leading the attack with figures of 4 for 43 as an impressive outing with the ball took India into the final.
Here’s a look at the key moments of the India-Sri Lanka thriller.
A solid opening stand
As India won the toss and opted to bat, openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill once again provided a perfect start. The duo added 80 runs for the opening wicket, laying a solid platform. While Gill struggled a bit at the start, Rohit looked fluent against the new ball and took a fair bit of advantage of the Powerplay restrictions. Despite mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana operating alongside pacers inside the first 10 overs, Rohit, in particular, looked quite good against the Lankan bowlers as he entered the 10,000-run club in ODIs. With runs flowing off Rohit’s bat, India had managed 65 at the end of first Powerplay. The 11th over from slinger Matheesha Pathirana too yielded 15 runs as India looked set for a big total.
Eying to make his mark against the star-studded Indian batting line-up, 20-year-old Dunith Wellalage (5/40) had one of his best international outings ever as the left-arm spinner ran through the batting line-up. Introduced in the 12th over, Wellalage got into action straightaway, striking first-ball and removing Shubman Gill with a ripper for 19. His next victim was star Virat Kohli, the last match centurion as he was undone by the bounce off the surface and handed a straightforward catch to Dasun Shanaka at mid-wicket for 3. After wickets in two successive overs, Wellalage then castled half-centurion Rohit in his third over with an arm ball. While the Kohli delivery stuck into the surface and bounced, the Rohit dismissal saw the ball keeping quite low and knocking over his middle stump. With India three down in no time, Wellalage led a perfect fightback for the Lankans.
Rahul, Ishan rescue act and the collapse
As Wellalage wreaked havoc with his triple-strike, last-match centurion KL Rahul and Isahan Kishan joined hands to arrest the slide. Despite struggling against the spinning ball, both resisted and tried to build a partnership. While the boundaries had dried up completely for India both Rahul and Ishan focussed on rotating the strike and kept the scoreboard moving. With the duo managing a 50-plus partnership, it looked as if India were bailed out of trouble but Wellalage returned to break the 63-run stand in the 30th over. As Rahul departed for 39, Ishan (33) joined him soon, falling in the 35th over to Charith Asalanka. After the dismissals of Rahul and Ishan in no time, it was expected that Hardik Pandya would come to the rescue alongside Ravindra Jadeja but both looked absolutely clueless against the wizardry of Wellalage and Asalanka. As the duo fell cheaply for 5 and 4 respectively, the Lankans then pressed towards bundling out India. Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav too departed for single digit scores but as Axar Patel and Mohd. Siraj fought for the last wicket before rain stopped play at the end of the 47th over. After a delay of almost 40 minutes, Axar and Siraj dragged India past the 200-run mark. Their crucial 27-run stand for the last wicket took India to 213 before Theekshana dismissed Axar in the final over.
Pacers rock Lanka early
Defending 213, India pacers went in full throttle with Jasprit Bumrah and Mohd. Siraj grabbing three wickets in the first powerplay. While Pathum Nissanka was the first one to walk back for 6 in the third over, Kusal Mendis (15) followed him soon after hitting 3 boundaries with Bumrah providings early success to India. Dimuth Karunaratne (2) then chased a wide Siraj delivery outside off and paid the price for it with his wicket. At the start of the 8th over, Sri Lanka found themselves reeling at 25 for 3.
Kuldeep strikes and Dhananjaya, Wellalage stand
Following a successful powerplay, India kept the pressure on Sri Lanka with wickets at regular intervals. Sadeera Samarawickrama and Charith Asalanka did arrest the slide for a brief period with a 43-run stand but then Kuldeep struck twice in successive overs to put India on top. Ravindra Jadeja then removed skipper Shanaka as Lankans found themselves reeling at 99 for 6 in the 26th over. It seemed India were on their way to an easy win but Dhananjaya de Silva and Dunith Wellalage, out of nowhere pulled off a sensational 63-run stand for the 7th wicket. Frustrating the India bowlers, both rotated strike pretty well along with the occasional boundaries. As the partnership soared, it looked that the result was tilting towards the Lankans. Giving India bowlers a run for their money, both de Silva and Wellalage battled hard till the 38th over.
De Silva dismissal that opened the gates
The Dhananjaya de Silva and Dunith Wellalage partnership gave India a hard time but Jadeja got the crucial breakthrough in the 38th over, ending the terrific partnership. Playing a needless shot, Dhananjaya was caught by Shubman Gill at mid-on for 41. With not much support left, young Wellalage gave everything he had but the Lankans fell short. Maheesh Theekshana soon followed De Silva as he was dismissed by Hardik and after that Kuldeep returned to wrap up the tail, dismissing Kasun Rajitha and Matheesha Pathirana off successive deliveries in the 42nd over. Wellalage remained unbeaten on 42 as Lanka folded for 172, handing India a 41-run win.