CARDIFF — India set up a final showdown with hosts England in the ICC Champions Trophy with an impressive eight-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in Cardiff today.
Shikhar Dhawan continued his excellent run of form in the tournament with 68 as the reigning world champions cruised past their opponents’ total of 181-8 with 90 balls to spare in the Welsh capital.
The in-form opener hit a six and six fours in his 92-ball knock, taking his tally in four matches to 332 in the process, as he shared in an opening partnership of 77 with Rohit Sharma (33) that made the run chase a procession.
Virat Kohli finished up unbeaten 58 and Suresh Raina was seven not out when India waltzed over the finishing line with 15 overs to go.
The emphatic win was set up by their bowlers, most notably the seam trio of Ishant Sharma, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav, who made use of excellent early swing conditions after Mahendra Singh Dhoni won a delayed toss.
Opener Kusal Perera (4) was the first of three slip catches for Raina and he was soon joined back in the pavilion by Tillakaratne Dilshan, albeit due to a calf injury that forced the big-hitting right-hander to retire hurt.
Having managed just 26 from the mandatory powerplay, Sri Lanka saw Lahiru Thirimanne nick a wide delivery from Ishant Sharma 10 runs later before India claimed the key wicket of Kumar Sangakkara for 17, Raina seizing the chance low down to provide Sharma with his third victim.
Mahela Jayawardene, who would have fallen lbw to Dhoni’s medium pace with just five to his name had it not been for a successful use of a review, and Angelo Mathews added 78 for the fourth wicket.However the Sri Lankans were simply bogged down in the damp conditions — Jayawardene was bowled by Ravindra Jadeja for 38 looking to up the ante and then Mathews perished for a top score of 51, making it 158-5.
Thisara Perera (0), Nuwan Kulasekera (1) came and went in a hurry, the latter deceived all ends up by a carrom ball from Ravi Ashwin (3-48) that he watched as it spun back into leg stump, though Jeevan Mendis added 25.
Dilshan (18 not out) briefly returned to try and do some late damage but his hobbled state summed up the Sri Lanka innings in a repeat of the 2011 World Cup final.
India came out on top again just as they did two years ago, although this time it was by a far more comfortable margin. They have now won all four of their outings on English soil ahead of Sunday’s showpiece at Edgbaston. (Sky)