Kohli, bowlers put India in final

India 142 for 5 (Kohli 56*, Yuvraj 35) beat Sri Lanka 138 for 9 (Kapugedera 30, Siriwardana 22, Pandya 2-26, Ashwin 2-26) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina steadied India’s chase after an early wobble © Associated Press

Virat Kohli stroked his third fifty in as many T20s against Sri Lanka to send his team cruising to the Asia Cup final, after a tight bowling performance had restrained the opposition to 138 for 9. Kohli arrived with India wobbling at 16 for 2 in the fourth over, but soon enlisted Suresh Raina, then Yuvraj Singh, for support, in what was eventually a comfortable chase. The winning runs were hit with four balls and five wickets to spare. Kohli’s share was a 47-ball 56 not out.

It had been Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah who earned India the initial impetus, however, taking out a batsman apiece during their miserly new-ball spells. Sri Lanka coughed and spluttered right through their innings, losing wickets just as a significant partnership seemed to be forming. Chamara Kapugedera top-scored with 30 from 32, before late blows from Thisara Perera and Nuwan Kulasekara propelled the team to what was a half-decent score, given the conditions. Dew would make defending it substantially harder, however.

Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and R Ashwin all took two wickets apiece for India, and Nehra made a customary early breakthrough. Ashwin was typically crafty, but the seamers’ scalps were largely the result of good discipline, as Sri Lanka batsmen attempted to manufacture big strokes following long, quiet spells.

Kohli was in good touch from early in his innings, smoking Angelo Mathews through midwicket fifth ball, before pumping Nuwan Kulasekara through point before the end of the Powerplay. He’d hit one more sublime cover-drive off Dushmantha Chameera, in the first half of the innings, but largely laid low after that, mining singles and twos from the outfield instead. He ticked along, and Raina followed suit – the pair putting on 54 together for the third wicket.

When Raina departed in the 12th over, India were marginally shy of the required rate, but Kohli’s assured presence warded off panic. He let Yuvraj play himself into some kind of form, and kept India striding confidently toward the total. Memorably bludgeoning huge, consecutive sixes off Herath, Yuvraj also produced his most substantial innings since early 2014 – an 18-ball 35.

Pandya didn’t last long against Herath, but MS Dhoni was on hand to assist Kohli with the finish. Kohli crossed fifty in the penultimate over, then lifted Herath over cow corner to reap the winning runs.

Earlier, Dinesh Chandimal creamed a four second ball, then failed to score off the next eight deliveries, before sending an inside edge to the keeper off Nehra. Tillakaratne Dilshan’s modest form persisted at the other end, though he pilfered a few runs behind the wicket, before hooking Pandya to fine leg, to end on 18. With Shehan Jayasuriya also having been dismissed cheaply Sri Lanka had slipped to 31 for 3 at the beginning of the seventh over. India’s seamers had made good use of the juice in the pitch – Bumrah threatening batsmen’s edges, in particular.

Full report to follow

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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