Asia Cup Final, India vs Sri Lanka: India, Sri Lanka meet with bigger goals in mind | Cricket News

A title clash with serious context
The chatter going around in the cricket fraternity is that six-time champions India start Sunday’s Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka – who are five-time winners of the tournament – as overwhelming favourites. It is anything but.
Yes, man to man, Rohit Sharma’s India have greater pedigree and statistically, they have more luminaries. But Sri Lanka have home advantage and a 12th man that will keep players energized in steamy conditions – the tireless and zesty fan.


At the Premadasa against India, in tournament finals, Sri Lanka have a 4-2 advantage. In Asia Cup finals, India lead 4-3. Overall, in Asia Cup contests, it’s 10-10.
The low, slow conditions suit the home side as they employ a collection of tweakers to stifle rival teams. India’s achilles heel lately has been facing finger spin in the Asia Cup, as was witnessed in the Super-4 match against Lanka, in which left-arm-spinner Dunith Wellalage and part-time off-spinner Charith Asalanka shared nine wickets between them to bowl India out for 213.
The trend continued against Bangladesh as spinners Mahedi Hasan, Mehidy Miraj, Shakib Al Hasan and Nasum Ahmed collaborated to conjure a memorable six-run triumph on Friday.
There will be more spin on offer on Sunday and in the World Cup too, as analysts and support staff would have observed how inhibited India’s batters appear while countering the turning ball.


While India will be strengthened by the return of Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Virat Kohli, Kuldeep Yadav and Mohammed Siraj, an elbow, wrist, and hamstring injury to Axar Patel has forced the team management to send an SOS to off-spinning allrounder Washington Sundar.
The Tamil Nadu cricketer, who last featured in an ODI for India in January, was training in Bengaluru with the Hangzhou Asian Games cricket contingent when the call came.
With Sri Lanka having a host of left-handers in their top eight, and the recently relaid Premadasa square being a friend of off-spinners, Axar’s injury and ouster may be a temporary blessing in disguise. But India will miss his batting contributions lower down the order and that means Ravindra Jadeja will have to improve on his ODI batting form and strike-rate.
Since his heroic 59-ball 77 in the World Cup semifinal against New Zealand at Old Trafford in 2019, Jadeja’s bat ting strike-rate has dipped to 79.36 compared to his career strike-rate of 84.17. Don’t be fooled by the improved average of 39.41 compared to his career average of 31.91. That’s because of seven not outs.


The ‘hosts’ have injury concerns too. Maheesh Theekshana, the mystery spinner, has been ruled out of the contest because of a hamstring injury which he picked up while fielding on the boundary in the game vs Pakistan.
Sri Lanka have got in Sahan Arachchige as Theekshana’s replacement. Injuries to players though don’t puncture Lankan spirits easily. Shana ka acknowledged that while addressing the media. “We came without our key players, but still we managed to make the finals,” he said referring to the absence of Dushmantha Chameera, Dilshan Madhushanka, Wanindu Hasaranga and Lahiru Kumara.
Sri Lanka have managed to find different heroes in all their games. Kusal Mendis has produced two scores more than 90. Asalanka has struck vital runs at a good rate. Sadeera Samarawickrama and Dhananjay De Silva have been efficient and young Matheesha Pathirana, despite going for runs on occasions, has struck vital blows with his slingy action.

India will pin their hopes on batting big if they get first use of the pitch. Gill and Rohit have been in good form, as have KL Rahul and Virat Kohli. Ishan Kishan delivered under pressure in Pallekele against Pakistan, but struggled against spin in the games against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
They missed the skills and potency of Bumrah against Bangladesh as both Prasidh Krishna and Shardul Thakur leaked runs in the end, allowing Bangladesh to log an above-par 265/8 from 191/7.
If India field first, similar largesse won’t go unpunished again. Having dropped eight catches in the tournament so far, the support staff and fans will hope for more sharpness in the field.

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