Mirpur (Bangladesh), March 1: India tonight (March 1) stormed into the final of the Asia Cup Twenty20 cricket tournament with another comfortable five-wicket victory over Sri Lanka, riding on Virat Kohli's unbeaten half-century.
It was their third successive victory, clinching a berth for the summit clash as they now stand on the cusp of their sixth continental championship trophy. The final is on March 6 (Sunday). In their final league game, India face United Arab Emirates on Thursday (March 3).
After the bowlers restricted Sri Lanka to 138 for nine, the 'Men In Blue' overcame the early hiccups as they reached the target in 19.2 overs.
It might look close from the scoreboard but India always had control of the match. The ever-consistent Virat Kohli once again made a significant contribution with a 56 not out off 47 balls with seven fours.
But the innings of the match was certainly played by Yuvraj Singh, who showed glimpses of his vintage self during a cameo of 35 from only 18 balls that had three sixes and two boundaries.
Yuvraj once again proved the old adage that class is permanent as he effortlessly shifted gears from the last match, where he just wanted to build a partnership with Kohli. Tonight, he came in at 70 for 3 with the team still needing another 69 runs.
By the time, he was gone trying to hook Thisara Perera, he added 51 runs in 5.4 overs with Kohli and more so ended whatever little chances that Sri Lanka harboured in the match.
He started with a slashed four off Dasun Shanaka, and then hit two sixes off Rangana Herath over long and deep mid-wicket.
Another six over cover point and a four effectively closed out the match.
While Hardik Pandya (2) was fooled by an arm ball from Herath, a Mahendra Singh Dhoni straight six and a couple of boundaries from Kohli finished the proceedings.
India's opening pair of Rohit Sharma (15) and Shikhar Dhawan (1) did not fire as Nuwan Kulasekara bowled an inspired first spell getting the deliveries to move both ways.
One such delivery that moved in after pitching (away going for left-hander) found Dhawan poking at it to give a catch to Chandimal behind the stumps.
Sri Lanka restricted to 138/9
Earlier, Indian bowlers once again put up an impressive performance by restricting Sri Lanka to a modest 138 for nine.
Opting to bowl, young guns Pandya (2/27 in 4 overs) and Jasprit Bumrah (2/26) continued their stellar show as the island nation never really got going during their innings.
Senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (2/26 in 4 overs) also showed brilliant control during the back-10 while veteran Ashish Nehra (1/23) once again showed why he is a class apart.
Such was India's dominance that their bowlers bowled 50 dot balls out of a possible 120 deliveries, which effectively meant 8.2 overs went without any runs being scored. India's potent new ball pair of Nehra and Bumrah were on target in the Powerplay overs once again.
Dinesh Chandimal (4) tried to make room by pushing towards leg-stump but the wily Nehra followed him by pitching one on the length that took an inside edge to land in Mahendra Singh Dhoni's gloves.
The ever-improving Bumrah then removed Shehan Jayasuriya (3) with a delivery that moved a touch and the resultant snick offered became Dhoni's second catch of the night.
The once dangerous Tillakaratne Dilshan (18 off 16 balls) nowadays plays from the memory and looks a pale shadow of his old self.
His miseries were ended at the beginning of the seventh over. Pandya, coming in as first change, struck with his very first delivery, as he dug one short. Dilshan went for the pull shot but only managed to hit straight to Ashwin at fine leg boundary.
Sri Lanka were struggling at 31 for three when stand-in captain Angelo Mathews joined Chamara Kapugedera. The duo added 26 runs before Pandya again struck in his third over. Mathews got a fullish delivery outside off-stump and was played on trying to go for a cut shot.
At 57 for four, Milinda Siriwardana (22) joined forces with Kapugedera (30) as the duo played some counter-attacking shots.