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Dhawan and Kohli helped India ease into the finals
India opener Shikhar Dhawan once again put on a show for the fans as he and Virat Kohli, along with some outstanding bowling from Ishant Sharma, helped the men in blue to set up a finals clash with England.
Sharma set up India’s easy win with three wickets, while Dhawan scored 68 runs and Kohli 58.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and chose the bowl first in glorious conditions.
The decision looked to be the correct one as Sri Lanka struggled to keep their innings afloat after losing Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne and Kumar Sangakkara early on.
However, things went from bad to worse for Sri Lanka as flamboyant opener Tillakaratne Dilshan hobbled off the field, with the help of Perera and the physio, after slipping and hurting his ankle.
Veteran batsman Mahela Jayawardene steadied the Sri Lankan innings somewhat as he made a slow, but steady 38 runs before being clean bowled by spinner Ravindra Jadeja.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews made a brilliant half-century and all-rounder Jeevan Mendis added 25 runs as the Lankan Lions limped to 181 at the end of their 50 overs.
Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin took three wickets apiece for India, while Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar picked up a wicket each.
With just 182 runs standing between them and the finals, India got off to a cracking start, once again thanks to the opening partnership of Rohit Sharma and Dhawan.
Sharma and Dhawan were able to accumulate 77 runs before Sharma was cleaned up be Mathews for 33.
Kohli joined Dhawan at the crease and from the first ball he faced, he looked to be all business.
Both Kohli and Dhawan brought up their half-centuries in good time as India seemed to be cruising towards their target of 182.
However, just as they were on the verge of winning, Dhawan was beautifully stumped by Sangakkara for 68 off 92 balls, which included six boundaries and one maximum.
After Dhawan’s departure it took only a short while for Kohli and Suresh Raina to help India reach their target as they registered a crushing eight-wicket win.
Mathews and Mendis were the only two Sri Lankan bowlers to take wickets, as both of them were rewarded with one wicket apiece.
At the post-match presentation ceremony, Mathews looked extremely disappointed as he walked to the podium, and he said: “The toss was crucial, we would have also bowled if we won the toss. The ball was seaming around, swinging around, the pitch was two-paced, our batsmen found it difficult. But credit should go the Indians.”
Meanwhile, Dhoni praised him team for a job well done, but also noted that England had been on an impressive run throughout the tournament.
“I think it is a well-written script, good toss to win, started well by the bowler, unfortunately for SL they lost Dilshan, we capitalised on that, then the bowlers bowled well, especially the spinners,” he said. “I think it is important to have good bowlers in the side. The ball was still doing a bit, Bhuvnesh had already bowled 8 or 9, we wanted to keep some of the fast bowlers’ overs for the death, so with Karthik around I think might as well give it a go. I thought even if it goes badly, I’ll bowl one over. It went okay so I bowled another … England are a very good side, and we have played a lot against them in the last couple of years.”
Ishant Sharma was given the Man of the Match award for his three wickets.
“My strength is the bounce, I stick to my strength,” he said. “I think up front Umesh and Bhuvi bowled really well. I think the conditions were really favourable here, in the previous games the wickets were quite flat.”