x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Mendis magic wins it for Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka retain their Asia Cup title as the spinner Ajantha Mendis produces a fine spell of bowling to topple India.

The Sri Lanka team celebrate their Asia Cup victory over India.
The Sri Lanka team celebrate their Asia Cup victory over India.

KARACHI // Ajantha Mendis produced one of the most sensational spells of bowling in the history of the one-day game as Sri Lanka retained their Asia Cup title at the National Stadium in Karachi tonight. The mystery spinner bewitched India's batsmen, who are commonly regarded as the best players of slow-bowling in the world, as he picked up six for 13. The 23-year-old had played just three international matches before the tournament, but he ended it a national hero in the Teardrop Isle. The Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf briefly stole Mendis's limelight when he appeared on the pavilion balcony just as Sri Lanka were on the brink of victory. Soon after, Musharraf was tasked with handing over the Man of The Match and Player of The Tournament awards to the young star. At the other end of the age-scale, Sanath Jayasuriya, 39, hit 125 to lay the platform for Sri Lanka's 100 run win. The final went against the Asia Cup trend of being dominated by the bat, which made Jayasuriya's knock all the more outstanding. He reached his ton in 79 balls, with five sixes, and Sri Lanka's score was 150 for four at the time. That represented a major repair job, as he and Tillekaratne Dilshan rescued their side after an alarming collapse. Dilshan has survived on his fighting qualities for much of his Sri Lanka career. The Asia Cup was generally an unproductive one for him, but he proved his worth at the most vital time. He came to the wicket with Sri Lanka mired at 66 for four, and hit a cool 56. He was an unnoticed understudy to Jayasuriya as the two shared 131 for the fifth wicket. Sri Lanka were certainly showing signs of nerves when India set off in pursuit of their total 273 at a great rate. Virender Sehwag was at his belligerent best, racing to 60 in just 37 balls, before falling victim to Mendis. Mendis proceeded to fire out Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Irfan Pathan and RP Singh, as the Lankans raced to their second successive Asia Cup. @Email:pradley@thenational.ae