Asia Cup T20: Kohli guides India into final
In-form batsman Virat Kohli made an unbeaten half-century as India eased to a five-wicket win over Sri Lanka to qualify for the Asia Cup final in Dhaka on Tuesday.
Kohli, who played a brilliant innings of 49 under pressure against Pakistan on Saturday, hit 56 off 47 balls to guide India to 142-5 after their medium pacers restricted Sri Lanka to 138-9.
Replying to the modest score, India were in danger early on when Nuwan Kulasekara removed both the openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma for just 16 runs.
Dhawan returned to the starting line-up after an injury break against Pakistan but survived just three balls before edging Kulasekara to Dinesh Chandimal for one.
Sharma fell in Kulasekara's next over offering a catch to Chamara Kapugedera at slip for 15.
Kohli, who hit seven fours, added 54 runs with Suresh Raina for the third wicket to put India firmly in control.
"Touch wood, it's coming out nicely now. Another crunch situation, 16 for 2. It's nice to challenge yourself," Kohli said after the match.
"Kulasekara and Angie were bowling well. I knew I'm striking the ball well, so I have to take the pressure off the other batsman by hitting the odd boundary."
Dasun Shanaka broke the partnership as Raina miscued a catch to Kulasekara at mid-off after making 25 runs.
Yuvraj Singh ensured it did not affect India's run-flow, hitting left-arm spinner Rangana Herath for two sixes off successive balls in the next over to make 35 off 18 balls.
India captain MS Dhoni praised Singh for his effort.
"Yuvraj Singh's innings was crucial, not just for this match but for the team as well," said Dhoni.
"Good to see him get into some good form."
Put into bat first by Dhoni, Sri Lanka's Kapugedera scored the team's highest of 30 off 32 balls, but the islanders needed a strong effort from lower order batsmen Milinda Siriwardana and Kulasekara.
Siriwardana made 22 off 17 balls while Kulasekara added 17 after facing just six balls to provide a late impetus.
Indian medium pacers controlled the innings making regular in-roads from the start.
Ashish Nehra removed Chandimal early after he added six runs to his 50 and 37 runs in the previous two matches.
Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah then claimed two wickets each to finish with 2-26 and 2-27 respectively before the lower-order gave the Sri Lankan innings some respectability.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said dew that had fallen on the ground in the evening was partly responsible for their defeat.
"With the dew coming in, it felt like we were 20-25 runs short, but the Indians batted well, as always, and Virat was outstanding," he said.
"If the wicket was like the previous one, it would have been a fighting total, but the dew came in and the ball started sliding through."
Bangladesh will face Pakistan in the tournament on Wednesday.
D. Chandimal c Dhoni b Nehra 4
T. Dilshan c Ashwin b Pandya 18
S. Jayasuriya c Dhoni b Bumrah 3
C. Kapugedera c Pandya b Bumrah 30
A. Mathews b Pandya 18
M. Siriwardana c Raina b Ashwin 22
D. Shanaka run out 1
T. Perera st Dhoni b Ashwin 17
N. Kulasekara run out 13
D. Chameera not out 2
Extras (lb 5 w4 nb 1) 10
Total (nine wickets; 20 overs) 138
Fall of wickets: 1-6 (Chandimal), 2-15 (Jayasuriya), 3-31 (Dilshan) 4-57 (Mathews), 5-100 (Siriwardana), 6-104 (Shanaka), 7-105 (Kapugedera), 8-125 (Perera) , 9-138 (Kulasekara)
Did not bat: R. Herath
Bowling: Nehra 4-0-23-1(w2), Bumrah 4-0-27-2, Pandya 4-0-26-2, Yuvraj 1-0-3-0, Jadeja 2-0-19-0, Ashwin 4-0-26-2 (nb1 w2), Raina 1-0-9-0
S. Dhawan c Chandimal b Kulasekara 1
R. Sharma c Kapugedera b Kulasekara 15
V. Kohli not out 56
S. Raina c Kulasekara b Shanaka 25
Yuvraj Singh c Kulasekara b Perera 35
H. Pandya b Herath 2
MS Dhoni not out 7
Extras (w1) 1
Total ( five wickets; 19.2 overs) 142
Fall of wickets: 1-11 (Dhawan), 2-16 (Sharma), 3-70 (Raina) 4-121(Yuvraj), 5-125 (Pandya)
Did not bat: R. Jadeja, R. Ashwin, J. Bumrah, A. Nehra Bowling: Mathews 3-0-16-0, Kulasekara 3-0-21-2, Perera 4-0-32-1, Chameera 4-0-27-0 (w1), Herath 3.2-0-26-1, Shanaka 1-0-7-1, Siriwardana 1-0-13-0
Result: India won by five wickets
Umpires: Anisur Rahman (BAN) and Shozab Raza (PAK) TV umpire: Sharfuddoula Ibne Shahid (BAN)
Match referee: Jeff Crowe (NZ)
India booked their berth in the final of the Asia Cup T20 with an emphative five-wicket win over Sri Lanka who suffered their second defeat on Tuesday.
Chasing a target of 139, India were powered by a second consecutive half century by Virat Kohli (56 not out) to make 142-5 in 19.2 overs to record their third win.
Kohli played an anchor role stroking seven boundaries in his knock sharing in two crucial partnerships of 54 with Raina (25) and 51 with Yuvraj Singh who smashed a sizzling 18-ball 35 which was studded with three sixes and as many boundaries.
Kohli whips Herath to midwicket for a boundary as India beat Sri Lanka by five wickets with four balls to spare.
Dhoni launches Siriwardana into orbit with a straight hit while Kohli completes his fifty with a boundary. Ind 138-5, 19 overs.
Herath strikes bamboozling Pandya with a top spinner. Ind 125-5, 17.5 overs.
Hardik Pandya b Herath 2 (4b)
Thisara breaks the partnership after being hammered for a couple of boundaries as Yuvraj is undone by a bouncer. Ind 121-4, 16.5 overs.
Yuvraj Singh c Kulasekara b Perera 35 (18b 3x4 3x6)
Yuvraj slams Thisara for a massive six. Ind 105-3, 15 overs.
Yuvraj tees off with a couple of massive sixes off Herath. Ind 97-3, 13 overs.
Shanaka gets a breakthrough as Raina is dismissed with Kulasekera pouching a catch after a bit of a wobble. Ind 70-3, 11.1 overs.
Suresh Raina c Kulasekara b Shanaka 25 (26b 2x4)
Raina and Kohli are on song as India are 66-2 at the halfway stage needing 73 off 60 balls.
Kohli is in red-hot form cracking a couple of boundaries off wicket taker Kulasekera. Ind 37-2, 6 overs.
Kohli is off the mark with a boundary off Mathews with a wristy shot. Ind 25-2, 5 overs.
Raina clips Kulasekera to the midwicket fence. Ind 20-2, 4 overs.
Double strike by Kulasekera as he removes Rohit who plays a casual shot. SL 16-2, 3.2 overs.
Rohit Sharma c Kapugedera b Kulasekara 15 (14b 3x4)
Kulasekera draws first blood having Dhawan caught behind. Ind 11-1, 2 overs.
Shikhar Dhawan c Chandimal b Kulasekara 1 (3b)
Sri Lanka innings
Kulasekera gets a couple of boundaries off Nehra as Sri Lanka finish on 138-9 after being put into bat.
Nuwan Kulasekara run out 13 (9b 2x4)
Ashwin removes Thisara who departs after a six-ball cameo. SL 125-8, 18.4 overs.
Thisara Perera st Dhoni b Ashwin 17 (6b 2x4 1x6)
Thisara slams two consecutive boundaries off Bumrah to keep up the momentum. SL 115-7, 18 overs.
Pandya takes a superb catch to dismiss Kapugedera. SL 105-6, 17.2 overs.
Chamara Kapugedera c Pandya b Bumrah 30 (32b 3x4)
Sri Lanka are imploding as Shanaka is run out by a mile. SL 104-6, 17 overs.
Dasun Shanaka run out 1 (4b)
Ashwin strikes as Siriwardana lofts him straight to the long-on fielder. SL 100-5, 16.1 overs.
Milinda Siriwardana c Raina b Ashwin 22 (17b 1x4 1x6)
Kapugedera picks up a boundary off Ashwin slapping him over cover. SL 91-4, 15 overs.
Kapugedera takes on Raina swinging him to the cow corner for a boundary. SL 84-4, 14 overs.
Siriwardana gets going by slamming Jadeja back over his head for the first six of the match. SL 75-4, 13 overs.
Mathews changes gears by smashing Pandya for a couple of boundaries before the youngster castles him with an in-dipper. SL 57-4, 11 overs.
Pandya strikes with his first delivery bouncing out Dilshan. SL 31-3, 6.1 overs.
Tillakaratne Dilshan c Ashwin b Pandya 18 (16b 2x4)
Dilshan picks up a boundary after a misfield on the fine leg fence by Dhawan. SL 31-2, 6 overs.
Bumrah strikes to get rid of Jayasuriya who hangs his bat out with Dhoni and the bowler surprisingly making a muted appeal but the batsman walked. SL 15-2, 3.4 overs.
Shehan Jayasuriya c Dhoni b Bumrah 3 (5b)
Dilshan gets going by lap sweeping Bumrah past fine leg for a boundary.
Nehra strikes as Chandimal tries to do something different only to get an inside through to the keeper. SL 6-1, 2.2 overs.
Dinesh Chandimal c Dhoni b Nehra 4 (11b 1x4)
Chandimal cracks Nehra through the covers for the first boundary of the match. SL 4-0, 1 over.
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Shehan Jayasuriya, Angelo Mathews, Milinda Siriwardana, Dasun Shanaka, Chamara Kapugedera, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Dushmantha Chameera
India have made one change as Dhawan comes back in place of Rahane while Sri Lanka will miss the services of Malinga.
India have won the toss and not surprisingly elected to bowl first against Sri Lanka.
Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Monday said that Sri Lanka was a tough team to beat given their ability to outdo themselves in big games.
India will face World T20 champions Sri Lanka in their third T20 of the Asia Cup on Tuesday at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka, Bangaldesh.
"There are only 10 international teams at the maximum. You are almost familiar with everybody if you are playing for a few years and Sri Lanka is a team that we have played a lot with but one thing that will always wary about Sri Lanka is the fact that they can always punch above their weight. In a big game they will definitely raise their standards, they are a very good team and they always play like a pack, that's one thing we are always aware of," said Ashwin as his team practiced on the nets.
He added that the team would not look down on any of the teams and would focus on the match in hand.
Speaking about bowling during T20 matches, Ashwin said that it was more important to get away with overs than wickets.
"It is very important to know what conditions are thrown at you. You can't try and beat the conditions. It is very important to go back and understand that it will not spin a lot. It's even more imperative that we put the ball in good lengths and try and get away with overs rather than looking to go for wickets because in T20 most often the wickets are given by the pressure rather than the exact skill of the ball," he said.
The off-spinner also praised Indian Test team skipper Virat Kohli's gutsy knock against a fiery Pakistan bowling attack in a previous match in the tournament.
Kohli scored a confident 49 to prop up India in a tricky chase as they defeated neighbours Pakistan by five wickets in a low-scoring match last week.
Asia Cup, hosted by Bangladesh, will conclude on March 6.
Follow Emirates 24|7 on Google News.