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Asia Cup: Bowlers help India defend small total, end Lanka’s 13-ODI win streak; seal spot in final

Colombo, Sep 12 (IANS) Rohit Sharma’s India team came up with a superb bowling display to defend a small total and end Sri Lanka’s 13-match winning streak in One-Day Internationals (ODI) here at R. Premadasa Stadium, here on Tuesday.

In a low-scoring thriller, India fought back after being bundled out for 213 by defeating Sri Lanka by 41 runs in the fourth match of the Super 4 stage of the Asia Cup and sealed a place in the final.

The 213-run target wasn’t easy to chase on this pitch, which was tricky to bat on. The chase wasn’t good for the Lankans as they lost the wicket of Pathum Nissanka in the third over, after which they lost two more wickets in the Power-play.

Two of these three wickets were claimed by pacer Jasprit Bumrah while Mohammad Siraj bagged the third.

Charith Asalanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama added 43 runs for the fourth wicket before Kuldeep Yadav came into action and got rid of both batters in consecutive overs.

However, Sri Lanka again found back through an outstanding partnership between Dhananjaya De Silva and Dinuth Wellalage for the seventh wicket. The pair added 63 runs in the late fightback and dragged Sri Lanka close to victory, needing 44 runs off 55 deliveries.

The lone warrior Dinuth Wellalage battled till the end as the wicket tumbled at the other end. The 20-year-old’s resilient inning was the centrepiece of the match for Sri Lanka as it came after the young spinner had rattled India with his maiden five-wicket haul. The brilliant performance earned him praise from Virat Kohli during the post-match handshake.

In the end, it was the spinners who turned the tables for India, as Jadeja took a wicket and Kuldeep wrapped up the match by taking two wickets in the end. He finished with dominating figures of (9.3-0-43-4).

Earlier in the day, India batted first on winning the toss and posted a below-par score of 213 runs on a tricky pitch that was very challenging to bat. Rohit Sharma showed his brilliant batting skills and got his second consecutive half-century in the tournament.

Apart from him, K.L Rahul yet again batted with purpose in the middle overs and scored 39 runs.

It was a historic day for Sri Lankan spinners as India were bowled out by spinners for the first time. The Sri Lankan trio of Dimuth Wellalage (5-40), Charith Asalanka (4-19), and Maheesh Theekshan shared all the 10 wickets in the Indian innings.

For his terrific all-round performance, Wellalage was declared ‘Player of the Match as he claimed 5-40 and then top-scored for Sri Lanka with 42.

Wellalage said, “First of all I want to congratulate the Indian team. Unfortunately, we lost the match today, but we have one more game to make it to the final. Kuldeep Yadav is a great bowler, but I tried to play my normal game and stay positive. [How were you feeling?] From a small age, I worked hard and had a positive mindset. Want to thank my teammates and supporting staff.”

Winning captain, Rohit Sharma said, “It was a good game. For us also to play a game like that under pressure. Challenged a lot of aspects of our game. We definitely want to play on pitches like to see what we can achieve. [Hardik] He’s worked hard on his bowling over the last couple of years, and it’s pleasing to see how he bowled that spell. Not an easy target to defend. The pitch got slightly better towards the end so we had to hold our nerve and bowl consistently.

Losing captain, Dasun Shanaka said, “We didn’t expect this kind of a wicket, but after the first 10 overs we came into the match brilliantly with the spinners. The luxury of the two genuine batters bowling is great, They’ve done well in the nets but it was great how they performed.”

Brief scores:

India 213 all out in 49.1 overs (Rohit Sharma 53, K.L. Rahul 39; Dunith Wellalage 5-40, Charith Asalanka 4-18) beat Sri Lanka 172 all out in 41.3 overs (Dinuth Wellalage 42, Dhananjaya De Silva 41; Kuldeep Yadav 4-43, Ravindra Jadeja 3-33, Jasprit Bumrah 2-30) by 41 runs.

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