DUBAI: For a team that came to the Asian Cup boasting they were more preparation for the T20 World Cup, India were given a tough lesson by Sri Lanka on Tuesday night. All Team IndiaThe shortcomings of came to the surface when Sri Lanka, with immaculate planning and an indomitable spirit, took pole position to advance to the final chasing 174 with one ball and six wickets to spare.
India, who played musical chairs with their playing XI, find themselves hoping for a miracle to advance to the final after losing their two Super 4 games. Fearlessness, Recklessness and Aggression – everything the Indian team aspired to achieve in the tournament – were Sri Lanka’s virtues that night. 10 months after the T20 World Cup debacle here in the UAE, India still find themselves vulnerable in tough matches.
How it happened
Openers Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis set the tone for the chase, hammering 97 for the first wicket in 11.1 overs. Both faced 37 balls each and scored 52 and 57 respectively. Yuzvendra Chahal and R Ashwin (who replaced Ravi Bishnoi) brought India back into the contest 3/34 and 1/32 down the middle. But captain Dasun Shanaka (33* from 18) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa (25* from 17) put together an unbeaten 64-from-34 partnership to expose India’s lackluster death bowling which has been crippled by the lack of bowling options.

Sri Lanka came up with a plan to use the short border to their advantage. They succeeded by limiting the Indian batting to 173/8 as most of the Indian batters were knocked out on the larger end of the field. And when the Lankan batters went out to bat, every big hit was targeted toward the shorter boundary. The Indian bowlers, who looked like bowling disregarding the shorter limit, were stunned.

For the first time since assuming the regular captaincy of Team India, Rohit the belligerent T20 has stepped out of the shadow of Rohit the captain. It was about rebuilding a team, creating a brand of cricket and preparing for the T20 World Cup in October. On Tuesday, Rohit took it upon himself to hold India with a 72-41 ball. If only he had his batting roster, filled with IPL superstars, backing him up and delivering a solid finish.
Rohit usually doesn’t stir much on the pitch. But when Virat Kohli was cleared for a duck by left arm tailor Dilshan Madushanka a few balls after KL Rahul went down for six, he threw his head back and the pressure was evident on his face. At 13/2, the Indian locker room was inevitably nervous.
In response, Rohit launched a counterattack. He mostly talked about the ultra-aggressive, reckless and fearless cricket he wanted his team to play. It was about time he showed how it’s done. The moment he hopped down the lane for a fastball from Asitha Fernando and fired it into the middle of the wicket for a six in the fifth, you knew he was serious.
The challenges of scoring fluently were evident as the ever-enterprising Suryakumar Yadav struggled to move on with 29 ball 34. Rohit was there to play the starring role. From jumps on the track to spinners, short spins after thin leg and his trademark pulling shots were all on display. The run rate topped nine runs per over.
There the ordeal began. Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant showed flashes of their power prowess, but the Sri Lankan bowlers kept their cool and stuck to their plans. Both fell for identical scores (17 out of 13) trying to cross the big limit.
The match was played on the same surface as India and Pakistan played two nights ago. It looked drier and much slower. With one side of the border measuring 80 meters long, the Sri Lankan attack was smart to exploit it all. Maheesh Theeksana set the pace with his immaculate bowling. Rohit couldn’t have let leg spinner Wanindu Hasaranga slip through his overs.
Rohit was driving and appeared to be posting a worrying total until the lack of pace on the pitch finally explained it as his top cut was caught at Chamika Karunaratne’s deep point. Surya’s ramp off Dasun Shanaka also couldn’t eliminate the short third man.

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