Physicists love to talk about the space-time continuum, which can be difficult for the layman to process, but Sri Lanka was providing a cricketing demonstration of a complex concept in the simplest possible way.
On the earlier occasion, Sri Lanka had batted first and cleaned up for 50. Mohammed Siraj picked up a career-best 6 for 21. In Mumbai, for reasons such as Kusal Mendis and Chris Silverwood are better known , coach in Sri Lanka, won the toss and put India in to bat. A delighted Rohit Sharma said at the toss that he would have batted first anyway as India’s bowlers were likely to be a handful when the lights came on.
The lights flashed, but it was Jasprit Bumrah who was on, sending the perfect delivery, slanting in and straight to Pathum Nissanka plumb ahead on the first ball in pursuit of 358. Bumrah slid two sheets down the leg. then. side, offering some relief.
Siraj, who started badly in almost every match of this tournament, was on the money with his first ball. A full head hit Dimuth Karunaratne and he had no chance of surviving the lbw shout. Four balls later Sadeera Samarawickrama went thick at third slip and Sri Lanka had lost three wickets without scoring a single run from the bat.
Off the first ball of his first over, Siraj bowled the ball in, just enough off the pitch to slide past the bat as Kusal Mendis watched his off stump being activated in a brilliant way. At this point, Siraj had picked up three wickets without conceding a run in seven balls and Sri Lanka were four wickets down with just three runs on the board. There was no Mumbai Miracle for the visiting team, however. Mohammed Shami, coming off five and bagging four wickets, was denied the ball until the 10th over. Once he got his hands on the white Kookaburra, Shami showed his class, bombing Charith Asalanka and Dushan Hemantha off successive balls to reduce Sri Lanka to 14 for 6. Half of these runs were scored by Angelo Mathews .But even the experienced man could. resist but for 12, cleaned up by Shami in the 14th over. Shami returned to complete his five-wicket haul, taking his tally at this World Cup to 14 wickets from three matches at an unreal average of 6.71. He returned 5-0-18-5 on the day as Sri Lanka collapsed to 55 for a 302-run defeat, which ensured India a place in the semi-finals. Given the opportunity to bat first, India’s top order laid out their stalls. Apart from Dilshan Madushanka, who took the ball in to the right-handed batsmen consistently and then deployed the cutter with nous, none of the Sri Lankan bowlers were particularly threatening.
Rohit fell with the change, playing inside the line to miss his wicket. Virat Kohli and Shubman Gill settled in and then feasted. The pair added 189 for the second wicket before both fell with hundreds there to build. Gill (92) tried to guide the ball to third man but it ticked the bowler. Kohli had a chance to cap a poetic moment, scoring his 49th ODI hundred to equal Sachin Tendulkar’s tally, with the great man in attendance, one day after a life-size statue of the Master was exposed. But Kohli (88) was pulled into a check drive to short cover by Madushanka’s slower ball.
Sri Lanka pulled things back as best they could, but Shreyas Iyer caught the slow bowlers as he has done time and time again on his home soil in domestic cricket, smashing sixes and three fours in a 56-ball 82. India finished on 357 for 8, a little short of what they had hoped for midway through their innings but more than what they thought would be a good score when they were sent in. how much can Sri Lanka realistically expect against this Indian attack, how deep are the scars. When they took the field, Sri Lanka wore black armbands to commemorate the life and death of Percy Abeyesekera. Uncle Percy, as the ever-smiling cheerleader universally known, would never be a happy man.
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