The pipe dream of an India-Pakistan Asia Cup 2022 final have been dealt a near-decisive blow with India’s second consecutive loss in the Super Four stage, relegating their chances of advancing to the final to mathematical equations and improbable scenarios.
Related: Hard lessons for Rohit Sharma in Asia Cup 2022
India’s efforts against Sri Lanka on Tuesday night were worse than their match with Pakistan a few days ago, and in sum total, all the plans laid out fell by the wayside in a miserable heap. With the T20 World Cup approaching fast, India are left with more questions than answers, not a pretty place to be.
Once again, India’s top-order batting managed to fold and fall on itself in a miserable heap and though skipper Rohit Sharma and Surya Kumar Yadav put up some runs, with the subsequent batters also struggling, India were left well short of what would have been even a par score on the Dubai International Cricket Stadium track.
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In sharp contrast, the Sri Lankan opening pair of Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis were in sublime form and played almost a copybook Powerplay, taking the attack to all the Indian bowlers. They were together for a fine 97-run opening stand that effectively laid to rest any nerves about the chase.
The Indian spinners did manage to make some dents in the batting as Yuzvendra Chahal claimed three wickets, including both Nissanka and Mendis, while Ravichandran Ashwin, played ahead of Ravi Bishnoi, removed another Sri Lankan batter.
But the seasoned pair of Bhanuka Rajapaksa and skipper Dasun Shanaka were not to be denied, especially as the former really tore into the Indian bowlers.
The end of the Sri Lankan inning bore striking resemblance to the one against Pakistan. Once again, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, India’s pace spearhead, sent down two wides in the penultimate overs, giving say 13 runs (he had conceded 19 against Pakistan), leaving young Arshdeep Singh to defend seven runs for the second consecutive time.
The left-armer tried his best but there were just too few runs to defend. Like the Pakistan match, this one too ended with one delivery to spare.
India now are seeking miracles. They are left hoping that Pakistan lose to both Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, while they themselves beat the Afghans by a big margin. Given the body language of the team on the field, that would be easier said than done.