Steered by Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 56, India beat Sri Lanka by 5 wickets in Dhaka on Tuesday to enter the final of the Asia Cup.
Here are the five key factors that led to India advancing to the final.
When in need of a wicket, call on Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya, who had finished off the Pakistan innings by taking two wickets in two deliveries, returned to scalp a wicket off his first ball on Tuesday. The wicket was of Tillakaratne Dilshan, who at the time was batting on 18 and was slowly settling into a partnership with Chamara Kapugedera.
Pandya then took the wicket of Angelo Mathews, who too had pieced together 27 runs with Kapugedera. Mathews’s dismissal left little support for Kapugedera, who eventually top-scored for Sri Lanka with 30, but could not take his side’s total beyond 138.
Ashwin’s clever bowling
With conditions hardly supporting spin, Ravichandran Ashwin still managed to bowl an effective spell. His entry immediately made an impact as he broke a 43-run stand between Kapugedera and Milinda Siriwardana.
Ashwin produced 10 dot balls, despite coming into bowl after the 10th over. It was on Ashwin’s bowling that Thisara Perera was adjudged stumped by the umpire. Replays later showed that Perera was safe, but the square-leg umpire had already made the decision.
Dhoni’s smart shuffling of bowlers
Depending on the conditions, Dhoni has become adept at shuffling his bowlers around. His bowlers in turn are delivering each time he calls them into action. On Tuesday, he used Ashwin more as a bowler to keep runs down than pick wickets. It was in stark contrast to the role assigned to him during Sri Lanka’s tour of India when Ashwin was used as an attacking option throughout the series.
Virat “Mr. Dependable” Kohli
India’s star batsman Virat Kohli scored his third half-century in as many games during India’s chase on Tuesday. He replicated his performance against Pakistan, steadying India’s chase after both the openers returned to the hut.
Kohli played till the end, scoring 56 runs off 47 balls. He played steadily and kept the scoreboard ticking with quick singles and targeted the gaps to find the boundaries.
Key batting partnerships
After the departure of the openers, the middle order played the rescue act with two key partnerships in the middle overs.
First, Kohli and Suresh Raina combined to dig India out of the hole created by the two early wickets. Both players did not play any expansive shot, but kept the scorecard ticking with some smart running between the wickets.
Later, Kohli combined with Yuvraj Singh and went after the bowling. Yuvraj took the lead and smashed three sixes and three fours. The partnership helped the side keep up with the required run-rate.