Abject surrender of Asia Cup by Sri Lanka

Monday, 18 September 2023 03:23 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Sri Lanka swept away by Siraj for lowest total in tournament - 50

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq

In one of the most devastating spells of fast bowling Hyderabad right-arm fast bowler Mohammad Siraj ripped through the Sri Lankan batting taking a career best 6/21 to bring a swift end to the Asia Cup final played at the R. Premadasa Cricket Stadium yesterday.

The almost capacity crowd of 25,000 spectators were left stunned when the defending champions Sri Lanka were shot out for 50, the lowest total in the Asia Cup, and their second lowest in ODIs.

India knocked off the required runs in 6.1 overs through Ishan Kishan (23*) and Shubman Gill (27*) scoring 51-0 providing an anticlimactic end to the much looked forward to final where fans had clamoured for tickets hoping to witness a keenly contested game, but in the end were left high and dry. It was India’s eight win of the Asia Cup.

The entire game lasted just 21.3 overs as Siraj scythed through the Sri Lankan batting on a pitch offering movement after it was kept covered due to rain soon after the toss.

Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah proved to be virtually unplayable as Sri Lanka’s hapless batsmen tried desperately to put bat to ball but found only thin air or the bats edge which was gleefully accepted by the cordon of four slips employed by Indian Captain Rohit Sharma. Full credit to the Indian bowlers for making use of the conditions to put Sri Lanka’s batting in the dumps. But the batsmen were also to blame for playing some indiscreet shots that led to their dismissal. Overall, it was an appalling display of batting unworthy of a final.

It was virtual carnage in the middle as Shiraj made the ball talk in a demoralising spell of bowling that saw him finish his seven overs with six wickets, becoming only the second bowler in Asia Cup history to take six wickets after Sri Lanka spinner Ajantha Mendis (6/13 v India at Karachi in 2008).

Siraj’s blitz left the Sri Lankan innings in shambles. The Indian pacer scythed through the top order taking four wickets in his second over which more or less broke the back of the Lankan batting. He then added a fifth in his third over by uprooting the Lankan captain Dasun Shanaka’s off stump and finished off by rattling the stumps of Kusal Mendis for 17. Four batsmen of the top six wickets failed to trouble the scorers.

The Sri Lankan collapse began after Bumrah had removed Kusal Perera for a second ball duck. After that it was all Siraj, with Hardik Pandya coming on to clean up the tail with a spell of 3/3 off 14 balls.

India no doubt had the strongest batting and bowling line-up in the tournament, and Sri Lanka the weakest bowling line up. In hindsight it would have been a better choice had Sri Lanka invited India to bat first and tried to chase down whatever the target, which would have given the spectators something to cheer.

One has to feel sad for the 25,000 cricket fans who crammed the stadium spending exorbitant rates for tickets to witness the final. Instead of 100 overs of action all they got was less than two hours of play (21.3 overs) for their money’s worth.