It was a match that wasn't short on drama, even if it was short on runs. For India though, it seemed like a familiar script. The match had it all — politically-charged invaders, R Ashwin bowling right-hander around their legs a la Shane Warne, MS Dhoni bowling, Rohit Sharma throwing away another good start, Shikhar Dhawan making the most of the chances that came his way and finally, Virat Kohli joining the party.
At the end of it, India notched up another comfortable eight-wicket win and advanced to the final against hosts England.
Grey skies greeted the teams as they entered the ground. A soggy outfield meant a one-hour delay. When things finally did get rolling, it was one-way traffic.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar provided the early breakthrough again, in much the similar manner he has done all tournament long. Ball swings away from the left-hander, who edges the delivery to Suresh Raina at second slip. After Chris Gayle at the Oval and Nasir Jamshed at Edgbaston, Kushal Perera also went the same way, c Raina b Kumar.
The real slide began when Tillakaratne Dilshan pulled his calf muscle and retired hurt, with the score at 17/2 after 4.3 overs. Through the next 10 overs, India's seamers turned in a disciplined display to restrict the Islanders to 32/2 after 15 overs.
India's first extra came in the 20th over when Ishant Sharma bowled a wide. That error, however, could be pardoned due to what the lanky, long-haired pacer did in his previous two overs. First, he got the ball to seam away from Kumar Sangakkara, who edged it to Raina at second slip. The second wicket, in his next over, was a carbon copy of the previous dismissal, the victim another left-hander, Lahiru Thirimanne. Such was India’s iron grip on the match that skipper MS Dhoni even came on for a bowl and almost caught Mahela Jayawardene off guard before a DRS review cost him a wicket.
Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews staged a mini-recovery but they did so at snail's pace against an India bowling and fielding unit that looked in top gear.
The partnership was finally ended by Ravindra Jadeja, who got the ball to keep low and crawl under Jayawardene's bat to rattle the timber. Mathews fell next, miscuing an R Ashwin delivery that was caught by Rohit Sharma. Ashwin added a couple of late wickets, including bowling Nuwan Kulasekera between the legs.
Operating from around the wicket all through the innings, Ashwin bowled a carrom ball. Playing for the off-spinner Kulasekera, moved his pads away from the line off the delivery, but the ball followed him and thudded into his leg-stump.
In the end, Sri Lanka could only muster 181/8 in their 50 overs. Ishant with 3/33 and Ashwin with 3/48 were the most successful bowlers for India.
Chasing a paltry target, Rohit and Shikhar began cautiously, although they played beautiful (Rohit's cover drives) and enterprising (Shikhar’s innovative upper cut for six) shots when the ball was in their slot.
Shikhar also made the most of the luck that came his way and was dropped thrice by the Sri Lankans, including the simplest of the lot, by captain Mathews at first slip. The pair looked good to add their third 100-run opening partnership in four matches before Rohit went for an ill-advised heave on 33.
Virat started cautiously and at no stage did India look like making a mess of this potentially tricky chase. Shikhar's luck finally ran out when he was on 68 as an alert Sangakkara whipped the bails with the Delhi southpaw's spike just ahead of the line.