The way India showed an all-round performance throughout the tournament despite reservations has certainly surprised many experts, but what is more surprising is the one-sidedness of the semi-finals. On the one hand, the hosts England trounced South Africa, and on the other, India gave Sri Lanka an eight-wicket drubbing in the second semi-final.

[caption id="attachment_1705" align="alignright" width="293"]The picture depicts Sri Lanka's innings -- totally disappointing (Photo: AFP) The picture depicts Sri Lanka's innings -- totally disappointing (Photo: AFP)[/caption]

The pre-tournament forecasts were suggesting that India could not perform in the 2013 Champions Trophy because of the spot-fixing scandal in the Indian Premier League (IPL). But after a few matches, the situation has made a U-turn as people are now comparing India with Australia, who ruled the world of cricket for more than a decade. Be it the tournament’s favourite South Africa, arch-rivals Pakistan, West Indies or Sri Lanka, no team could erect barriers to stop India from reaching the tournament’s final. Now India have a golden chance to beat the hosts and clinched the Champions Trophy’s title, two years after they lifted the World Cup.

The match started late at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff because if rain. Winning the toss was of crucial importance to avoid the ‘negative’ effects of batting first. MS Dhoni was lucky to choose batting first after winning the toss. It seemed as if there were landmines in the Cardiff’s wicket because of which Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews forgot the names of players included in the team. The same batting side which gave a tough time to England seemed left to the mercy of Indian bowlers.

Kusal Perera, 4; Lahiru Thrimanne, 7; and Kumar Sangakkara, 17; were back to the pavilion on 41. In between, Tillakaratne Dilshan was also retired hurt, which means four of their players were back to the pavilion before 50. Mahela Jayawardene and Mathews supported the innings at the stage. They faced Indian bowlers for the next 20 over but could not overcome them. The duo added 78 runs in the fourth wicket until the batting powerplay started in which Ravindra Jadeja clean bowled Jayawardene (38 off 63), ending Sri Lanka’s chances of recovery. The pace of runs fell further with the dismissal. After scoring runs at a snail’s pace in the next 10 overs, Sri Lanka lost quick wickets when they tried to get their innings into gear. Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara and Jeevan Mendis lost their wickets in the space of just 13 runs. Dilshan came back to the crease when the score was 164 for 7 and remained not out until Sri Lankan innings ended with 181 runs on the scoreboard at the loss of eight wickets.

The position of Sri Lankan batting in the match can be gauged with the fact that even Dhoni tried his hand in bowling and bowled four overs. He could even have taken Jayawardene’s wicket had the third umpire not saved him on review.

All Indian bowlers shared their bit in making the Sri Lankan batting collapse. Ishant Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin took three wickets each, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jadeja took one each.

[caption id="attachment_1706" align="alignright" width="208"]Another riveting innings by Shikhar Dhawan, but this time fortune was smiling on him (Photo: ICC) Another riveting innings by Shikhar Dhawan, but this time fortune was smiling on him (Photo: ICC)[/caption]

Looking at the performance of India’s top order, it can be safely said that a total of 300 had not bothered them, let alone a 182-run target as only Shikhar Dhawan was enough for that. Aided with Rohit Sharma, and fortune, Dhawan gave India a 77-run opening stand, stifling even the weakest glimmer of hope for Sri Lanka. In the last ball of the ninth over, Dhawan was dropped by Mathews in Kulasekara’s over. In the next over Sharma’s was by a few inches when the ball fell short of the first slip. Fate was not kind to Sri Lanka that day. Wicket-keeper Sangakkara missed another chanced to take Dhawan’s catch as he was standing very close to wicket to stop Dhawan. Three missed chances in three overs; what else one could expect after that?

During the innings’ break, a few overoptimistic fellows were hoping that he match would be a replica of the one between Sri Lanka and New Zealand, where the former took the match into a thrilling phase, defending just 130 runs. But people thinking this forgot that the batting line-up of India and the Black Caps are poles apart.

India lost their fist wicket in he form of Sharma, who paid the price because of quite a sloppy shot selection. Dhawan added another 65 runs with Virat Kohli before losing his wicket in the 32nd over. He remained the best batsman of the tournament, scoring yet another half-century. He returned to the pavilion after making 68 off 92. It took Kohli (58) and Suresh Raina (7) only three overs to end Sri Lanka’s campaign. Raina played the victory shot in the 35th over.

Ishant was declared the man of the match for his three wickets.

India will now face England on June 23 in the final. India are certainly the favourites for the grand match, given their performance throughout the tournament. The only the hosts can do to lift the title is to harness India’s batsmen. Otherwise “Ye cup kaheen naheen jaye ga”.

India vs Sri Lanka

Champions Trophy 2013, 2nd semi-final

June 20, 2013

Venue: Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

Result; India won by 8 wickets

Man of the match: Ishant Sharma

سری لنکاRunsBalls4s6s
Kusal Pererac Raina b Kumar4810
Tillakaratne Dilshannot out182120
Kumar Sangakkarac Raina b I Sharma174410
Lahiru Thirimannec Raina b I Sharma73110
Mahela Jayawardeneb Jadeja386330
Angelo Mathewsc Kumar b Ashwin518911
Jeevan Mendisst Dhoni b Ashwin253510
Thisara Pererac Dhawan b I Sharma0400
Nuwan Kulasekarab Ashwin1300
Lasith Malinganot out7210
Extras(lb 2, w 11)13
Total(8 wickets; 50 overs)181


India (bowling)OversMaidensRunsWickets
Bhuvneshwar Kumar92181
Umesh Yadav82300
Ishant Sharma91333
Ravindra Jadeja101331
MS Dhoni40170
Ravichandran Ashwin101483


بھارتTarget: 182 runsRunsBalls4s6s
Rohit Sharmab Mathews335040
Shikhar Dhawanst Sangakkara b Mendis689261
Virat Kohlinot out586441
Suresh Rainanot out7410
Extras(b 1, lb 5, w 10)16
Total(2 wickets; 35 overs; 155 mins)182


Sri Lanka (bowling)OversMaidensRunsWickets
Nuwan Kulasekara100450
Lasith Malinga80540
Thisara Perera60250
Angelo Mathews40101
Rangana Herath40140
Jeevan Mendis30281
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