Thursday, June 8, 2017

ICC Champions Trophy 2017 : India vs Sri Lanka

Today was the 8th match of the tournament between India & Sri Lanka at the Oval. It was expected that India, in the form that are in, would steamroll the Lankans with ease, but the sprightly islanders pulled in the biggest surprise of the tournament till now, with an upset unexpected win.

With overcast conditions, the Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews won the toss & put India into bat.
Openers Rohit Sharma & Shikhar Dhawan were in control from the very beginning despatching the Sri Lankan bowling to all parts of the ground to put in a formidable opening partnership of 138 runs, before Rohit holed out to Malinga in the deep for a well made 78 runs, in the 25th over. Surprisingly, next in Virat got out for a rare duck & then Yuvi too perished for just 7 runs. Dhoni in next survived a very confident appeal & then settled down with Dhawan to milk the bowling. Dhawan completed his 10th century in the 40th over as the batsmen started to open up. 103 runs came for the last 10 overs, as Dhoni, Dhawan & later Kedar Jadhav flayed the Lankan attack. In the end, Dhawan got 125 runs, while Dhoni got himself a wonderfully made 63 of just 52 balls & Jadhav belted 25 runs in just 13 deliveries. All the Lankan bowlers were taken to cleaners, as India lost 6 wickets to amass 321 runs in the allotted 50 overs. A very good total under any circumstance, especially a pressure game in a tournament like this.

When the Lankans started their chase after the break, & the free flowing Dickwella was removed by Kumar in the 5th over with just 11 runs on board, it looked like a batting collapse on cards.
But there was rude surprise for India in store - & a big one. Indian bowlers could not make further inroads, as Gunathilaka & Mendis dug into the crease & started to play shots as well. They put 159 runs together without any fuss, before Gunathilaka was run out by a brilliant piece of fielding from Yadav & Dhoni. Almost immediately, the well set Mendis also got run out by Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, to give India some hope to come back into the game. But Skipper Angelo Mathews & Perera into the crease were completely in control to keep the scoreboard ticking merrily. Perera have to leave retired hurt, with a pulled hamstring (a very good decision to leave & let a more fitter batsman come in), & Gunaratne coming in played with supreme confidence to take their team to victory. Mathews got a well deserved half century, & hit the winning runs with calm assurance. It was a remarkable victory for the Lankans, by seven wickets & more than an over to spare, a pure team game, with one of their their best run chase ever in ODIs. Its a very young & inexperienced outfit, & they played fearless cricket, which got them home. Kusal Mendis was awarded the Man of Match for his 89 runs in 93 deliveries.
Certainly an upset for India, who were pre match favourites. they will have to take a serious look into their bowling, which could take only one wicket today, the other two being run outs. One would want to believe, that it was one off day for them, but certainly a huge warning, on what to expect.
The Group opens up to make the remaining outings, virtual knock out matches - India vs South Africa & Sri Lanka vs Pakistan - the winner moves to semis. All the four team have 2 points each now, & unless there is a wash out, its going to be a cracker of a contest.

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