To the relief of Indian and Sri Lankan fans, the rains that were forecast for Thursday never arrived and although there was a delayed start in the Champions Trophy semi-final, it took little away from the proceedings yesterday.
Nevertheless, the Lankan batsmen failed to come to the party, and apart from a gutsy 51 from skipper Angelo Mathews, they were thoroughly outplayed by the Indian bowling unit.
A modest 181 was never going to be easy to defend even on a track that was assisting seamers and India cantered home to an eight-wicket win with a whopping 15 overs to spare.
Skipper MS Dhoni won an important toss and had no hesitation inviting his opponents to take first strike. The white ball which had little impact in the tournament thus far, suddenly began swinging around, doing just enough to keep the Lankan batsmen guessing.
Early setbacks for Lanka
Opener Kusal Perera was the first to depart, falling to the in-form Bhuvneshwar Kumar for four. As if this early loss was not enough, Lanka suffered another setback when the other opener Tillakaratne Dilshan hobbled off the pitch with an injury with the team’s score on 17.
The middle-order batsmen were extremely cautious after this forgettable start but none of them baring Mahela Jayawardene (38 runs) and Mathews could leave an imprint as Lanka ended their innings at 181-8 off their 50 overs.
Apart from Bhuvneshwar, man-of-the-match Ishant Sharma was the most impressive of the Indian pacers, taking 3-33 in nine overs. His victims included Kumar Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne.
Faced with a very modest target, the Indian openers showed no hurry whatsoever and Shikhar Dhawan was in brilliant for the fourth game running. The left-hander who had hit two consecutive 100s against South Africa and West Indies scored 68 before he was stumped by Sangakkara off Jeevan Mendis. He put on 77 in Rohit Sharma’s company before the latter fell for 33.
Mathews failed to grab a chance off Dhawan early on and with some luck could have had trapped Rohit leg-before for a low score. Virat Kohli remained unbeaten on 58.