Rampant India ease past Sri Lanka to lift seventh Asia Cup title

Shajin Mohanan S
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Rampant India ease past Sri Lanka to lift seventh Asia Cup title

India with their seventh Asia Cup title © Asian Cricket Council

India put on yet another dominant performance to lift their seventh Asia Cup title – in eight attempts – and third in the T20 format as they beat Sri Lanka in the final at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium on Saturday (October 15).  Sri Lanka never recovered from the opening burst of Renuka Singh Thakur and some haphazard running.  The only blemish in Harmanpreet Kaur and Co's campaign in this edition came when they went down against a spirited Pakistan in the group stages.

Once they won the toss and elected to bat first, nothing went right for Sri Lanka. Chamari Athapathu looked circumspect against Thakur, who angled the ball away from the left-hander. Even though Athapaththu ended the second over with a stylish boundary through the off-side, the swing bowler had her say in the next over in the field.

A mix-up with Anushka Sanjeewani saw Athapaththu walk back to the pavilion with Thakur delivering an accurate throw to wicket-keeper Richa Ghosh. Once their talismanic skipper departed early, Sri Lanka had no answers to the relentless attack by the Indian bowlers.

Thakur got the bowl angling away from Harshitha Madavi as well and the southpaw edged one to Ghosh behind the stumps in the fourth over. The next ball saw another mix-up costing Sri Lanka the wicket of Sanjeewani. Hasini Perera gave India a team hat-trick when she chipped one straight to Smriti Mandhana.

From 9 for 4, Sri Lanka never recovered and the procession continued with Thakur going through the gate of Kaveesha Dilhari and Nilakshi de Silva chopping Rajeshwari Gayakwad on to the stumps. Sneh Rana also got among the wickets with the scalps of Malsha Shehani and Sugandika Kumari.

Only Oshadi Ranasinghe and Inoka Ranaweera got into double figures as Sri Lanka finished their innings on 65 for 9 from the stipulated 20 overs.

For India, Thakur was the most successful bowler with incredible figures of 3 for 5 from her three overs, while Gayakwad and Rana picked up two wickets each.

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Chasing a moderate total, India openers were in the mood to take the attack to the opposition straight away. After a sedate first over, it was Mandhana who went after the bowling as she stepped down the track to drive Kumari through cover.

The southpaw then went after Ranasinghe to hit the off spinner over the ropes with an inside out shot and she then swiveled to pull the next delivery for a four. Mandhana then came down the track and thumped Ranaweera over long-on for a maxium.

At the other end, Shafali Verma was struggling to find her timing even though she tried to play a few shots and was eventually stumped off Ranaweera. Jemimah Rodrigues came and went as she missed a delivery that kept low in an attempt to slog it to the leg-side.

The two wickets didn't make India slow down, Harmanpreet started the innings with a boundary and Mandhana continued to play some eye-catching shots through the off-side. She first hit Dilhari for a couple of fours from the backfoot before slinking down the track against Ranaweera for another boundary through long-off.

Mandhana finished the match in emphatic fashion with a four and a six through the leg side to bring up her fifty as well as the tournament triumph.

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 65/9 in 20 overs (Inoka Ranaweera 18*; Renuka Singh Thakur 3/5, Sneh Rana 2/13) lost to India 71/2 in 8.3 overs (Smriti Mandhana 51*) by eight wickets POTM: Renuka Singh Thakur, POTS: Deepti Sharma