x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

India book place in Asia Cup final

Mahendra Dhoni and his fellow Indian batsmen beat Sri Lanka by six-wickets to seal their place in the Asia Cup final.

The India captain Mahendra Dhoni prepares to play a shot as the Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara looks on.
The India captain Mahendra Dhoni prepares to play a shot as the Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara looks on.

KARACHI // Mahendra Dhoni and his fellow Indian batsmen continued their stroll through the Asia Cup, as they beat Sri Lanka by six-wickets to seal their place in the final. The Sri Lankans will be there to meet them: tonight's game eventually amounted to little more than a dress-rehearsal for Sunday's showpiece, and rendered tomorrow's match between Pakistan and Bangladesh meaningless. The National Stadium in Karachi has been a batsman's dream for the past two weeks, and the run-glut continued as the Indians made easy work of the 309-run victory target. Dhoni continued his personal run-spree, with 67, meaning he now has a tournament average of 139. Suresh Raina, the competition's leading run-scorer with 356, helped himself to 54, while Gautam Gambhir top-scored for India with 68. Defeat will not have overly bothered the Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene, who also made a half-century. As the defending champions, Sri Lanka have their eyes on the bigger prize, and shuffled their pack accordingly. In hiding two of their trump cards for tonight's game, Sri Lanka repeated a trick they played at the World Cup last year. They rested the veteran Chaminda Vaas, but that was probably necessitated by the intense workload caused by the schedule of the Asia Cup. However, the Indians have yet to play against Ajantha Mendis, the new spin maverick, and Sri Lanka were no doubt keen to keep his box of tricks under wraps before the final. The ploy was an echo of last year's Super Eight tussle with Australia in the Caribbean, when the then coach Tom Moody dropped Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan ahead of a potential final with the same opposition. The tactic did not work then - Australia won both that game and the ensuing final in Barbados - and Jayawardene will be hoping history does not repeat itself at the National Stadium on Sunday. The Lankans will be delighted with the continued progress in the Asia Cup of Chamara Kapugedera. The team's coaching staff have struggled to conceal their excitement over the promise of this richly-talented 21-year-old batsman, and he repaid their faith with a serene knock of 75.