In a dazzling display of pace bowling mastery, Mohammed Siraj emerged as the hero for India, steering them to their eighth Asia Cup title with a resounding 10-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in a match that will be remembered for its brevity and dominance.
Siraj’s remarkable performance saw him claim six wickets for a mere 21 runs, with a stunning four-wicket blitz in a single over that left Sri Lanka reeling at a paltry total of 50 runs. It was a performance that exceeded all expectations and marked a new zenith in Siraj’s ODI career.
8th Asia Cup title for India
Sri Lanka’s decision to bat first, following a rain-delayed start, proved to be ill-fated. Jasprit Bumrah, India’s pace spearhead, struck early, dismissing Kusal Perera for a duck in the very first over. However, it was Siraj who truly stole the show, expertly exploiting the overcast conditions to make the ball dance and swing.
His destructive spell continued as he sent Pathum Nissanka (2) packing and came tantalizingly close to a hat-trick by dismissing Sadeera Samarawickrama (0) and Charith Asalanka (0) in successive deliveries. Although a hat-trick eluded him, Siraj’s brilliance knew no bounds.
Dhananjaya de Silva’s brief resistance was swiftly extinguished as Siraj had him caught behind, much to the jubilation of Indian fans. Remarkably, Siraj achieved a unique ODI record, clinching a five-wicket haul in just his first 16 balls of the match, which included the prized scalp of Sri Lankan captain Dasun Shanaka.
Kusal Mendis was the lone Sri Lankan batter to offer some resistance, contributing three boundaries before becoming Siraj’s sixth victim. Fortunately for Sri Lanka, they managed to avoid the ignominy of the lowest-ever ODI total of 35, set by Zimbabwe.
Hardik Pandya’s three wickets completed Sri Lanka’s innings in a mere 90 minutes. Mendis, with his 17 runs, and a defiant unbeaten 13 by Dushan Hemantha were the only double-digit scores in an innings plagued by five ducks.
Chasing the meager target, India’s opening pair, led by Shubman Gill, carried on from their previous match’s success. Gill, with his initial boundaries, set the tone, while Ishan Kishan (23) joined the party with some aggressive strokes.
Ishan, the left-handed dynamo, pummeled fast bowler Matheesha Pathirana for consecutive boundaries, while Gill’s flurry of three more boundaries sealed India’s victory in the shortest final ever witnessed in the Asia Cup.
Throughout the tournament, Rohit Sharma’s India displayed their prowess, losing only one inconsequential Super Four contest against Bangladesh. On the other hand, Sri Lanka, who had triumphed in the previous Asia Cup edition in the T20 format, came in as underdogs. They managed to sneak into the Super Fours with a dramatic win over Afghanistan but faltered in their 11th final appearance without putting up much of a fight.