By Srian Obeyesekere
India crushed Sri Lanka by 10 wickets as the co-hosts were shot out for 50 in only 15.2 overs in the lowest ODI total in history in sweeping to the Asia Cup in a final that lasted just 126 minutes on Sunday against a hostile Indian attack mounted by medium pacer Mohammed Siraj who claimed astounding figures of 6 for 21 off 7 overs in an impeccable Player of the Match 6 for 21 bout of swing bowling at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium. It was all over as soon as it started by 6.06 p.m. as a packed home crowd watched in awed pin drop silence as the Lankans were rocked that took India just 34 deliveries to signal that the Asia Cup was in her pocket as the home side folded up like nine pins with four of the top order falling for ducks that was triggered by Jasprit Bumrah who induced Kusal Janith Perera to edge a perfect outswinger to wicket-keeper K.L. Rahul for 2 off 4 balls from which point Mohammed Siraj took over in claiming the wickets of Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka and Dasun Shanaka for ducks and Pathum Nissanka for 2 and Dhananjaya de Silva for 4 in between.
It took India’s openers just 26 minutes to finish it off with skipper Rohit Sharma taking it easy in sending Ishan Kishan to do it on 23 off 18 (3×4) and Subman Gill 27 off 19 (6×4) to a thunderstruck disappointed home crowd that had thronged the stadium to cheer their heroes in the expectancy of an action-packed grand finale which turned to be a total anti-climax.
Siraj’s devastating display for his first 5-wicket ODI haul and fastest equaling Chaminda Vaas’ record was such that Sri Lanka lost three wickets for 8 in successive blows and the scoreboard read a disastrous 6 for 12 by the time Shanaka was sent back clean bowled by Siraj in another disappointment in the continuation of a terrible form slump by the Lankan skipper. Pathum Nissanka followed Perera caught by Jadeja having lasted two deliveries and Samarawickrama leg before wicket facing two balls, Charith Asalanka a first ball duck caught by Ishan Kishan, Dhananjaya de Silva caught by the stumper lasting just 2 balls before the cleaning up of Shanaka. Dhananjaya de Silva was fifth out caught behind for 4 off 2 while Matheesha Pathirana was the fifth Lankan batsman out for a duck to Pandya who had him caught by Kishan in rounding off India’s sensational win. It marked India’s eighth Asia Cup in leading the tally to Sri Lanka’s seven and was their first title triumph since 2018 under M.S. Dhoni.
For the 29-year old Hyderabad born Siraj it was a truly champagne performance of his life in bowling his country to a major title.
Sri Lanka 50 (15.2 Overs)
(Kusal Mendis 17 34 3, Dushan Hemantha 13, Mohammed Siraj 6/21, Hardik Pandya 3/3, Jasprit Bumrah 1/23)
India 51/0 (6.1 Overs)
(Ishan Kishan n.o. 23, Subman Gill n.o. 27)