India saunters into the final after third straight win

Indias captain Mahendra Dhoni, left, celebrates with his teammate Virat Kohli after winning the Asia Cup Twenty20 international cricket match against Sri Lanka in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tuesday, March 1, 2016. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)   | Photo Credit: A.M. Ahad

Virat Kohli was once again at the forefront as his unbeaten half-century was instrumental in > India’s comfortable five-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup Twenty20 tournament at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium here on Tuesday. The win also ensured India’s passage into the final of the continental tournament.

Kohli scored an unbeaten 56 off 47 balls as the tournament favourite reached 142 for five in 19.2 overs after restricting Sri Lanka to 138 for nine in 20 overs. Giving him good support was comeback man Yuvraj Singh, his 35 off 18 balls showing glimpses of the talent that made him a feared batsman some years back.

Earlier, Sri Lanka recovered from an early collapse triggered by some effective pace bowling by the Indians to score 138 for nine.

The pace battery of Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah bowl according to script and justified the faith that captain M.S. Dhoni placed on them by choosing to field.

Well-oiled machine

Functioning like a well-oiled machine, Nehra found the right length and movement — both off the air and the surface — to smother the attacking intent of the Sri Lankan openers Dinesh Chandimal and the hero of many a battle Tillakaratne Dilshan.

Clearly frustrated Chandimal, made a mistake in Nehra’s second over — India’s third — as he went for an ambitious heave over the midwicket and ended up offering an inside edge to Dhoni behind the stumps.

Sri Lanka’s start sputtered in the face of Nehra’s efficiency and the team barely managed to regroup after losing its most consistent batsman Chandimal — who scored a 50 and a 37 in the previous two matches — so early in the innings.

Taking a cue from his senior colleague, Bumrah picked up Shehan Jayasurya with a delivery that induced an edge with both pace and movement.

At 15 for two, > Sri Lanka was fighting for survival and that did not prove much as Hardik Pandya removed Dilshan (18) with his first delivery to leave the islanders in deep trouble at 31 for three.

The agony continued in the Sri Lankan camp when stand-in skipper Angelo Mathews (18) made the mistake of going defensive after bludgeoning Pandya for two successive boundaries on the front foot (57 for four).

At this point Chamara Kapugedera (30) and Milinda Siriwardana (22) forged a 43-run partnership for the fifth wicket to salvage the situation for Sri Lanka. They hit a few boundaries and a six as India’s spinners — Ravindra Jadeja and R. Ashwin — operated from the two ends.

Ashwin finally picked up Siriwardana to end Sri Lankan hopes of a big score (100 for five). Thisara Perera (17) and Nuwan Kulasekara (13) played some good shots in the end to get Sri Lanka to a fighting total.

PTI reports

The innings of the match was certainly played by Yuvraj Singh as he hit three sixes and two boundaries.

Yuvraj once again proved the old adage that class is permanent as he effortlessly shifted gears from the last match, where he just wanted to build a partnership with Kohli.

On Tuesday night, he came in at 70 for three with the team still needing another 69 runs. By the time, he was gone trying to hook Thisara Perera, he had added 51 runs in 5.4 overs with Kohli.

He started with a slashed four off Dasun Shanaka, and then hit two sixes off Rangana Herath.

Another six over cover point and a four effectively closed out the match.

While Hardik Pandya (2) was fooled by an arm ball fromHerath, a Mahendra Singh Dhoni straight six and a couple ofboundaries from Kohli finished the proceedings.

India’s opening pair of Rohit Sharma (15) and ShikharDhawan (1) did not fire as Nuwan Kulasekara bowled an inspired first spell getting the deliveries to move both ways.

Rohit, who was in the playing eleven after passing a fitness test, hit three boundaries, but a pitched up outswinger saw him go for a drive only to give a low catch in the first slip with India down at 16 for two.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 9:42:53 PM |

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