It took 15.2 overs, 92 balls to be precise for India to wrap up the Sri Lankan innings for a mediocre total of 50 in the Asia Cup final. A game that was expected to be a closely-fought contest, ended up being as one-sided as it could get with Mohammad Siraj being at the centre of Sri Lankan annihilation. The pacer, returning to India’s Playing XI for the summit clash after being rested for the Bangladesh Super Four tie, finished with astonishing figures of 6/21 in 7 overs as Sri Lanka were ripped apart undercast overcast conditions at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. When captain Dasun Shanaka won the toss and opted to bat, hoping to put up a competitive total, he expected his spinners to play a role under lights given the dryness of the surface. But when the target is 51, no amount of it would have helped. Siraj was all over the Lankan batters, smashing a plethora of records en route to wreaking havoc.
After Sri Lanka collapsed to their second-lowest total in ODIs – behind 43 all-out against Australia, Siraj was all over the moon. The India quick recalled a game not too long ago where he missed out on a five-wicket haul, but eight months later, a freak spell from Siraj has all but put India perilously close to clinching an eight Asia Cup title.
Also Read: India vs Sri Lanka Asia Cup Final Highlights
“This is a dream because earlier this year against Sri Lanka, I had picked up four wickets early but couldn’t complete a five-wicket haul. But I realised you only get what is written in the stars for you. So today my plan was to keep it simple, not try too hard and it worked for me. To be honest, my only thing was to go for a swing in white-ball cricket. I did not get much swing in the earlier matches so today when I noticed movement, plan was to make the batters play forward as much as possible. I got all of them bowling outside off which was all the more satisfying.
The game Siraj is referring to above is the third ODI between India and Sri Lanka earlier this year in Trivandrum. After India had piled a mammoth 390/4 after which Siraj ended with 4/32 from 10 overs. There too, Sri Lanka had folded for 73, handing India a 317-run win. Siraj missed out on bagging his maiden five-wicket-haul but ensured he wasn’t going to let this opportunity go begging.
Beginning the Asia Cup final with a maiden over, Siraj blew Sri Lanka away with a four-wicket over. In his second over, he knocked over Pathum Nissanka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, and Dhananjaya de Silva, leaving Sri Lanka reeling. Returning for his third over, he swiftly removed Dasun Shanaka, sealing a remarkable five-wicket haul in a mere 10 deliveries. With this achievement, Siraj equalled the legendary Chaminda Vaas, sharing the world record for the fastest five-wicket haul in an ODI in terms of team innings. He added a sixth in the next over, castling Kusal Mendis, after which Hardik Pandya’s three-wicket-burst served the final nail in Sri Lanka’s coffin.