By Srian Obeyesekere
Sri Lanka lost to India by 41 runs in a tussle that went out of the window when a seventh wicket 63-run Dhananjaya de Silva-Dunith Wellalage rescue act came to naught when de Silva paid the price of stepping out of his crease to off spinner Jadeja and sacrificed his wicket stumped by that stroke of indiscretion with the target within reach with a 10 overs or 60 balls leverage to get there in yesterday’s decisive Day-Night Super Four much to the disappointment of a roaring home crowd at the R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium. The rashness not only negated the tremendous effort put in by de Silva in having taken strike in a totally disarrayed 5 for 73 after 19.2 overs. Out of the window went his 41 off 66 in what would have been young Dunith Wellalage’s day of all-round brilliance in a 5-wicket take that rocked India’s star-studded batting line-up – Shubnam Gill 19, Virat Kohli 3, Rohit Sharma 53 and K.L. Rahul. It was to further radiate in a sheer bravado laced 42 off 46 of intense stroke play in the circumstances unafraid to treating each ball on its merit hitting 3 boundaries and a six in carrying his bat to the end running out of partners to getting his side through.
Indeed, the loss was despairing returns for the 20-year old former national U19 captain in that his side ended losers, though winning the acclaim of the match adjudicators with the Player of the Match award. He barged into the limelight from the sidelines of a player who was drafted in for the injured Wanindu Hasaranga in a show of left-arm drifting accuracy that bamboozled the Indian top order. So much so as to clean bowling Shubnam Gill for 19 in putting the brakes on a threatening 80-run opening partnership between skipper Rohit Sharma, and proceeding to send back super batsman Kohli for just 3 induced to miscuing a stroke and holing out to Dasun Shanaka at mid-wicket reducing India to 90 for 2 in 13.5. One digit later he struck again clean bowling Sharma with the drift – India 91 for 3, and reached the top of his game with a fourth when he foxed Rahul who totally misread the turn of the delivery to spooning a return catch – 154 for 4. His fifth wicket was that of Hardik Pandya caught behind by Kusal Mendis for 4 on a day India did recover on scores of 39 by Rahul off 44 b(2×4) and Ishan Kishan 33 off 82 (1×1, 1×6). Sharma’s characteristic belligerence in the end though proved decisive for India of 53 off 48 inclusive of 7 boundaries and 2 sixes.
As it is, the Lankans run chase faltered on poor indiscriminate batting by the failure of the frontline in the face of the fire and fury of Jasprit Bumrah sending back Pathum Nissanka caught behind for 6, Dimuth Karunaratne falling for 2 to Mohammed Siraj caught by Shubnam Gill for 2 with Bumrah reducing Sri Lanka to 3 for 25 in 7.1 overs having Kusal Mendis caught by substitute S.A. Yadav for 15, and when Sadeera Samarawickrama was sent back for 17 off 31 stumped by Rahul off Kuldeep Yadav and Charith Asalanka caught behind for 22 Sri Lanka was in deep trouble at 5 for 73 after 19.2. Skipper Dasun Shanaka came and went for 9 off 13 in that collapse – Sri Lanka 99 for 6 just into the halfway mark 0f 25.1 overs.
Kuldeep Yadav finished with figures of 4 for 43 with Bumrah 2 for 30 and Ravindra Jadeja 2 for 33 in doing the job for India.
Another personal consolation in the Lankan camp was Charith Asalanka’s 4-wicket take for 18 runs for a bowler who had never been in the starting line with the ball who did bring to play his ability with the ball kindling memories of his schoolboy days when he also excelled with the ball.
India 213 (49.1 Overs)
(Rohit Sharma 53, K.L. Rahul 39, Ishan Kishan 33, Axar Patel 26, Shubnam Gill 19, Dunith Wellalage 5/40, Charith Asalanka 4/18, Maheesh Theekshana 1/41)
Sri Lanka 172 (41.3 Overs)
(Dunith Wellalage n.o. 42, Dhananjaya de Silva 41, Charith Asalanka 22, Sadeera Samarawickrama 17, Kusal Mendis 15, Kuldeep Yadav 4/43, Jasprit Bumrah 2/30, Ravindra Jadeja 2/33, Hardik Pandya 1/14, Mohammed Siraj 1/17)