India 51 for 0 (Gill 27*, Kishan 23*) beat Sri Lanka 50 (Siraj 6-21, Pandya 3-3) by 10 wickets
After a couple of tight games, it seemed like the 2023 Asia Cup was heading towards an exciting finale but the title bout turned out to be an anti-climax as Mohammed Siraj singlehandedly demolished Sri Lanka in the blink of an eye. It was India’s seventh 50-over Asia Cup title, to go with one in the T20 format in 2016.
In overcast conditions, Siraj got the new ball to move around and picked up 6 for 21, the fourth-best ODI figures for India. He took just 16 balls for his first five wickets – the joint-fastest five-for in ODIs (where ESPNcricinfo has the data recorded) alongside Sri Lanka’s Chaminda Vaas and USA’s Ali Khan.
As a result, Sri Lanka were all out for 50 – their second-lowest ODI total – with only two batters reaching double digits. The whole innings lasted just 15.2 overs, the fifth-shortest in ODIs overall.
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In response, Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan, opening the innings in place of Rohit Sharma, took just 6.1 overs to complete the formalities. The two India openers hit nine fours between them; all Sri Lanka batters combined hit five.
After losing the toss, Rohit Sharma said that he too had wanted to bat first on what he called “a dry wicket”. But ten minutes before the scheduled start, it started raining. Perhaps that changed the whole situation.
When the match finally started after a delay of 40 minutes, Jasprit Bumrah got the ball to move in both directions. With his third delivery, he had Kusal Perera caught behind. Sri Lanka were in for an even ruder shock from the other end.
Siraj started with a maiden, beating Kusal Mendis’ outside edge four times in the over. In his next, he had four wickets. Pathum Nissanka was the first to depart, pushing a length delivery uppishly towards backward point, where Ravindra Jadeja dived low to his right to pouch it with both hands.
Two balls later, Siraj trapped Sadeera Samarawickrama lbw and then immediately after that had Charith Asalanka chipping one to cover. Dhananjaya de Silva survived the hat-trick ball. In fact, he pushed it through the vacant mid-on region for four. Such was Siraj’s adrenaline that he chased it all the way to the long-on boundary, leaving the Indian fielders, especially Virat Kohli, splitting their sides with laughter.
Dhananjaya did not last much longer; next ball, Siraj finished the over by having him caught behind, thus becoming the fourth bowler after Vaas, Mohammad Sami and Adil Rashid to take four wickets in an over in ODIs (where data is available). In his next over, Siraj uprooted Dasun Shanaka’s off stump to complete his maiden ODI five-wicket haul.
At 12 for 6, Sri Lanka were in danger of being bowled out for the lowest ODI total. Mendis and Dunith Wellalage saved them from that ignominy by adding 21 for the seventh wicket. But Siraj wasn’t done yet. In the 12th over, he got one to nip back to rattle Mendis’ middle stump.
Soon after, Hardik Pandya wrapped up the innings with three quick wickets.
Gill and Kishan faced no trouble in chasing down the paltry target, with Gill opening his account by flicking Pramod Madushan for four on the last ball of the first over.
From the other end, Kishan struck back-to-back fours off Matheesha Pathirana, only for Gill to go one up on him in the next over with three in three balls.
Off the first ball of the seventh over, Kishan sealed the win with a single to long-off.
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo