India don’t seem to put a foot wrong, do they? Having arrived in England for the Champions Trophy amid raging controversies surrounding IPL VI and skipper M S Dhoni’s alleged conflicts of interest, there were serious doubts about their chances in the meet.
But India have turned all calculations upside down to enter the final of the eight-nation tournament in emphatic style. India subdued Sri Lanka by eight wickets in the second semifinal here on Thursday to set up the summit clash with hosts England at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Sunday.
Put into bat, Sri Lanka limped to 181/8 and India replied with 182/2 in 35 overs. Shikhar Dhawan, who had two centuries and a 48 from three previous matches, once again orchestrated India’s successful chase with a chancy but crucial 68 (92b, 6x4, 1x6). After Dhawan’s dismissal, Virat Kohli, who had failed to capitalise on his good starts in the tournament so far, struck an unbeaten 58 (64b, 4x4, 1x6) as India coasted to another comprehensive win.
While the weather forecast about rain turned out to be false, the predictions that India would emerge winners proved right. The early morning showers did delay the start by 30 minutes but there was no reduction in the number of overs. Having won a good toss, Dhoni had no hesitation in opting to bowl first in overcast conditions. Man of the match Ishant Sharma (3/33), Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav exploited the pace-friendly conditions to the hilt to tie down the Lankan batsmen. The conditions were so conducive that even Dhoni had a ball, literally!
This is the third time that India have made it to the final of the biennial tournament which incidentally will be its last edition. In 2000 India had lost to New Zealand and in 2002 they were the joint winners along with Sri Lanka after heavy rains had washed out the final. Will they be third-time lucky?