(Ind vs SL ) Amidst a parched cricket pitch, Dunith Wellalage, a versatile player, exhibited flawless performance. Charith Asalanka, a part-time off-spinner, also made a noteworthy contribution. India’s more accomplished spin bowlers joined the fray as well. However, in this low-scoring encounter, India’s opening duo, both in batting and bowling, emerged as the decisive factor between the two teams.

Riding on the dynamic partnership of Captain Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, which yielded 80 runs, and a fiery spell from fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj during the initial overs, India convincingly ended Sri Lanka’s 13-match unbeaten streak with a commanding 41-run victory. This triumph essentially secured India’s place in Sunday’s Asia Cup final, with two matches remaining in the Super Fours stage.

With the pitch’s dry nature, situated adjacent to the one used for India’s duel against Pakistan, which unexpectedly extended into a two-day affair, both teams heavily loaded their line-ups with spinners. Consequently, Shardul Thakur was replaced by Axar Patel in India’s lineup. Axar’s sensible batting towards the end played a pivotal role in helping India cross the 200-run mark. However, it was Rohit’s explosive performance in the Powerplay that prevented India from struggling to reach a respectable total.

Rohit’s languid elegance was on full display, whether it was his elegant drive off Kasun Rajitha in the opening over or his towering six over the pacer’s head, which propelled him to become the second-fastest player to reach 10,000 ODI runs.

He aggressively targeted Dasun Shanaka, Sri Lanka’s captain, with four consecutive fours upon his introduction into the bowling attack. He then dispatched Matheesha Pathirana’s short-pitched deliveries beyond the boundary ropes. Nevertheless, in the 12th over, Shanaka decided to bowl himself, introducing Wellalage into the attack.

The left-arm spinner made an immediate impact, claiming a wicket in each of his first three overs, rekindling Sri Lanka’s hopes. He dismissed Shubman Gill, deceived by flight, Virat Kohli, as the ball gripped the pitch and was caught at midwicket, and Rohit, as it skidded and kept low. Sri Lanka was back in contention.

Following these breakthroughs, India found it challenging to accumulate runs. Wellalage’s remarkable five-wicket haul in ODIs, making him the youngest Sri Lankan to achieve this feat, and Asalanka’s dismissal of the lower-order batsmen resulted in India being bowled out for 213.

Bumrah and Siraj then showcased their bowling mastery by taking three wickets in the Powerplay. Both were virtually untouchable, with Bumrah claiming two scalps. Kuldeep Yadav followed suit, dismissing two batsmen in quick succession, including the fluent Sadeera Samarawickrama.

When Ravindra Jadeja induced an edge off Shanaka’s bat to Rohit in the slips, the score was a mere 99 for six, and victory seemed imminent for India. However, Dhananjaya de Silva found a resilient partner in Wellalage, offering the sizable crowd a glimmer of hope.

Regrettably, their 63-run partnership was broken when Shubman Gill executed a sharp catch at mid-on to send de Silva back to the pavilion. Kuldeep Yadav then wrapped up the tail-enders, securing a comfortable win for India.

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