Shikhar Dhawan's measured 68 helped India to a thumping 8 wicket victory over Sri Lanka. Rana Malook reviews another anti-climatic semi final.
Much like the South Africans yesterday the Sri Lankans had a faulty start to their innings, crawlingly to a similarly below par score. That start all but ended the contest before it had a chance to warm up. It was a disappointing spectacle for the neutral cricket fan but an absolute delight for thousands of Indian fans who'd packed the Sophia Gardens stadium in Cardiff.
Whilst the South Africans yesterday were accused of choking yet again, it'd be a harsh observation to suggest the Sri Lankans did so today. India were firmly in command from start to finish.
Tillakaratne Dilshan injury: The Sri Lankan opener had just smashed two boundries off Yadav and looked in good touch before pulling up with an injury. Indian skipper MS Dhoni agreed it was a significant moment in the game after the match: "It was unfortunate for Sri Lanka they lost Dilshan the way they did. I think that had a decent impact on the game for us. but we capitalised" Cricketers are a superstitious bunch, and the Indians were like sharks circling their bleeding pray after the incident. The Sri Lankans never recovered.
Ishant Sharma comes good
Just over a month ago in an IPL game Sharma bowled a spell of 0-66 off his four overs. As he sheepishly walked off upon completion of that spell their was a sense of defeat in his body language. Credit must go to MS Dhoni for keeping faith in him, he repaid that faith today. Unlike the Man of the match decision in yesterday's semi final his man of the match award is harder to argue with. Ishant bowled with pace and in the right areas. The delivery to get rid of an inform Kumar Sangakkara was particularly special. Landing on off stump on a good length the ball lifted and seamed sharply taking a healthy edge from Sangakkara's bat, with Suresh Raina taking a brilliant catch at second slip.
Ball of the day
Nuwan Kulasekara smashed England's spinners all over the park when Sri Lanka played England. He failed today thanks to Ravichandra Ashwin. The ball that accounted for his wicket was nothing short of fantastic. Bowling around the wicket to the right hander, Ashwin landed the ball well outside leg stump on a short length. The batsman picked the line early deciding to leave the ball predicting it would drift down legside for a wide. However what he failed to do was pick the fact that it was Ashwin's carrom ball. The ball spun sharply in the "wrong direction" completely bamboozling the batsman, the ball crashed onto leg stump. "Shane Warne-esque" remarked an excited Nasser Hussein on Sky commentary. It was brilliant bowling by India's premier spinner.
Angelo in vain
Sri Lanka's skipper showed heart as he grafted to a half century, giving the Lankans some hope with score of 181, which looked very unlikely at one stage. Unfortunately his batting efforts were let down by his fielding as he crucially dropped Shikar Dhawan in the slips when India's man in form was on just 18! It proved to be the final nail in the coffin.
Super Dhawan inspires Golden boy Kohli
Kohli had an ordinary day in the field uncharacteristically and comically dropped a catch out in the deep. However his batting came good today as he brought up his half century by dancing down the wicket and smashing Jeevan Mendis into the stands. His partner at the other end Shikhar Dhawan continued his sublime form with a measured 68 runs in which he only gave that one chance to Mathews. He now has 332 runs in the tournament and has been head and shoulders above all other batsmen in the tournament. India will be hoping he continues the run of form to sunday.
Funny Moment of the day
High catches are difficult but there's nothing worse as a fielder than seeing the ball drop over your head inside the boundry rope. Kohli suffered the misfortune of being the butt of this particular joke today. This is cricket's equivalent of a watching someone fall over on a banana skin. For reasons unknown it just induces burst of laughter. Luckily for Kohli there wasn't added embarrassment in seeing the ball roll for four.
India weren't really put under pressure in the semi final and they pressed home the advantage after Dilshan got injured. They were clinical in all disciplines of their game and outplayed Sri Lanka convincingly. England will need to formulate a very effective plan to defeat a team who've been in imperious form.