Mohammed Siraj conjured a magical spell of seam and swing bowling with magnificent figures of 6 for 21 as India crushed Sri Lanka by 10 wickets to lift the Asia Cup title after a gap of five years.
This was India’s eighth Asia Cup title and also their biggest victory (263 balls) in ODIs in terms of balls remaining. Siraj’s astonishing effort saw defending champions Sri Lanka getting bundled out for 50.
India did not bat an eyelid in the chase, as Shubman Gill (27) and Ishan Kishan (23) did the job in just 6.1 overs.
This was India’s first title in a multi-nation event after their triumph in the Asia Cup 2018, and in a way, it also exorcised the ghost of India’s 54 all out against Lanka in the Coca Cola Champions Trophy at Sharjah in 2000.
The match at Premadasa, forever, will be remembered for the way Siraj reduced the Lankan top-order to mere puppets of his sorcery.
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 — in just 16 deliveries.
Siraj also obliterated the best ODI figures against Sri Lanka, previously held by Pakistan pace legend Waqar Younis — 6 for 26 at Sharjah in 1990. However, the beauty of Siraj’s 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.
Indian skipper Rohit Sharma hailed his team for an emphatic performance in the Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka, saying the effort will be “cherished for a very long time”.
“It was a great performance, especially to come and play like that in a final. Shows the mentality of the team. Very clinical. A performance like that will be cherished for a very long time,” Rohit said at the post-match presentation ceremony.