Colombo: Mohammed Siraj produced a magical spell, 6 for 21, to decimate Sri Lanka for 50, and place India on the brink of a victory in the Asia Cup final here on Sunday.
Sri Lanka elected to bat first after winning the toss, despite heavily overcast conditions, and the match started 40 minutes after the scheduled 3 PM beginning.
But a storm of a different kind was awaiting Sri Lanka – a peak Siraj. His spell ensured that Lanka batted just 15.2 overs, and this was also their lowest ODI total against India.
The pacer became only the fourth bowler in ODI history to take four wickets in an over, and he matched former Lankan pacer Chaminda Vaas as the fastest to a five-wicket haul in one-dayers.
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However, the beauty of Siraj bowling was beyond mere numbers. He got into action after Jasprit Bumrah jettisoned Kusal Perera in the third ball of the first over – a regulation caught behind.
In conditions that resembled more London than Colombo, Siraj just had to pitch the ball in the right areas.
Siraj made his dance of destruction in the 4th over – 3.1, 3.3, 3.4 and 3.6 balls. The victims were Pathum Nissanka, Sadeera Samaraiwickrama, Charith Asalanka and Dhananjaya De Silva.
Nissanka tried to place the ball around Ravindra Jadeja at point, but the placement went awry as the fielder completed a fine tumbling catch.
Samarawickrma could not deal with a delivery that came in that little bit after pitching on a length, and the umpire did not have to think even for a moment to uphold Siraj’s appeal for leg-before.
In the very next ball, the left-handed Asalanka pushed at a fuller delivery from Siraj with zero footwork, and the uppish shot ended in the hands of Ishan Kishan at covers.
De Silva managed to avert the hat-trick, but he lasted only for another ball, a push away from body resulted in an easy collection of Rahul behind the stumps.
But Siraj was not done yet. He castled Lankan captain Dasun Shanaka and Kusal Mendis with peaches to complete their destruction.
Once Siraj finished his spell, there was nothing left in the Lankan innings. Hardik Pandya applied the finishing touches, taking three wickets.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 50 all out in 15.2 overs (Kusal Mendis 17; Mohammed Siraj 6/21, Hardik Pandya 3/3).