India defeated defending champions Sri Lanka by 5 wickets in Match 7 of the Asia Cup T20 2016. With this, India reserve their slot in the Asia Cup final, to be held in Dhaka on Tuesday.
India’s triumph can largely be attributed to the impressive knock of Virat Kohli, scoring 56 from 47 balls, to steer the team to 142/5 in response to their opponent’s 138/9.
At the start, India found themselves in a perilous position with openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma returning to the pavilion at a score of only 16 runs. Dhawan scored only one run before he edged Kulasekara to Dinesh Chandimal. Sharma managed just 15 before he was caught at a slip in Kulasekara’s next over.
The third wicket stand of 54 runs between Kohli and Suresh Raina provided a needed impetus to the Indian batting. “Touch wood, it’s coming out nicely now. Another crunch situation, 16 for 2. It’s nice to challenge yourself,” Kohli said after the match, as reported by NDTV Sports. “Kulasekara and Angie were bowling well. I knew I’m striking the ball well, so I have to take the pressure off the other batsman by hitting the odd boundary.”
Raina’s dismissal to Dasun Shanaka brought in Yuvraj Singh who, in his sparkling innings of 35 from 18 deliveries, scored at a strike rate of nearly 200.
Earlier, bowlers Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah captured a wicket each in their opening spells. The highest score from the defending champions came from Chamara Kapugedera, who scored 30 from 32 deliveries, which were followed by cameos from Thisara Parera and Nuwan Kuladekara. Sri Lankans lost their wickets at regular intervals along the way, especially when a partnership seemed to be blooming. Their peril was further worsened by dew.
Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and R. Ashwin captured two wickets each. At 31 for 3 at the start of the seventh over – with openers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Chandimal, and Shehan Jayasuriya back in the hut – captain Angelo Mathews and Kapugedera started consolidating the innings. Nevertheless, going at a very slow pace, the Lankans managed only 47 in the first ten overs. After Mathews, Kapugedera and Milinda Siriwardana built a partnership of 43 runs off 31 balls, ESPN CricInfo.com reports.
Mathews said following the match that the dew was one of the major reasons for their defeat. “With the dew coming in, it felt like we were 20-25 runs short, but the Indians batted well, as always, and Virat was outstanding,” he said. “If the wicket was like the previous one, it would have been a fighting total, but the dew came in and the ball started sliding through.”