The R Premadasa Stadium erupted in cheers when Dasun Shanaka chose to bat first after winning the toss. Home supporters had anticipated that their hitters would set India a difficult goal before letting the spinners do their magic.
Instead, Mohammed Siraj, a right-arm fast bowler for India, worked his magic.
In his second over of the 29th ODI he was playing, Siraj claimed his first five-wicket haul and sent Sri Lanka’s top-order hitters to the sidelines. His final match stats were 6-21 from seven overs, which included four wickets in one over.
The other three were wrapped up by Jasprit Bumrah (one wicket) and Hardik Pandya (three wickets) as Sri Lanka slumped to their second-lowest ODI total ever. Only two batters got into double figures and five were dismissed without scoring a single run.
After the match, India captain Rohit Sharma said he was “surprised by the way the pitch behaved” but said it didn’t take anything away from Siraj’s spell.
Sharma added, “It always pleases me when a bowler puts up an outstanding performance like Siraj did tonight.
India took full advantage of the luxury of a short target when it came time to chase, sending Ishan Kishan up the order to open with Shubman Gill.
The teenage partnership needed 30 minutes and 31 balls to bring India home on a surface that had suddenly become batter-friendly.
In the end, the game was done in a little more than two hours, and the crowd’s shock was evident. According to some estimates, 80 percent of attendees were from Sri Lanka.
After their late-night victory over Pakistan with the final ball, they had anticipated another long night at the stadium.
Instead, they departed before the humid evening sun could set.
The Sri Lankan flags that kids had painted on their faces only a few hours earlier were removed by them. Older spectators wore a familiar expression of despair.
Some of them weren’t in tears.
When Sri Lanka qualified, we were pleasantly pleased, said Ruchira Mahadev, a happy Sri Lankan supporter, to news reporters after the game. “We had bought tickets for the final thinking it would be India versus Pakistan, so when Sri Lanka qualified, we were pleasantly surprised,” she said.
Fireworks illuminated the Colombo sky as India sailed home to a 10-wicket victory.
The dejected fans who were trudging their way out of the stands looked up and took a few selfies with the illuminated background.
The fireworks continued well after the post-match press presentation ceremony and into the press conference.
When the booming sound drowned out India captain Sharma’s voice, he hinted at the wave of confidence his team was riding.
“You should crack these [fireworks] after we win the World Cup,” he shouted over the noise.
On his way back to the India dressing room to join in the team’s celebrations, Sharma tossed his cap to an elated member of the ground staff. The lucky recipient skipped his way to the boundary to show off.
The rain that had threatened to affect the match at multiple intervals finally arrived in the evening, about two hours after India won its record-extending eighth Asia Cup title.
For once, the tireless ground staff dubbed the “Orange Army” put their feet up and let the ground soak as the heavens opened up for an almighty shower.