Team India thrashed Sri Lanka by 10 wickets to lift a record-extending eighth Asia Cup title on Sunday, as it blew away the hosts in Colombo. After bowling them out for merely 50 – thanks to Mohammed Siraj’s incredible 6/21 figures which included a four-wicket second over – India chased down the target in just 6.1 overs. Opting to bat after winning the toss in the final, Sri Lanka’s innings disintegrated soon enough, with five of their batters contributing nothing to their scorecard and Siraj leading the onslaught.
Siraj’s exhibition of fiery fast bowling was most prominently demonstrated in his second over, where the right-arm paceman removed Pathum Nissanka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, and Dhananjaya de Silva. Hardik Pandya claimed three wickets while Jasprit Bumrah took one as Sri Lanka endured their second-lowest total in one-day internationals.
Following a resounding win over the Sri Lankans, Team India will now return home to prepare for the three-match ODI series against Australia, starting September 22. The series will serve as key preparation for the ODI World Cup as well, scheduled at home in October-November later this year. The side did welcome Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul from long-term injuries in the squad for the Asia Cup but after the former developed back spasms mid-way through the tournament and Axar Patel also picked an injury, the side is back to searching for answers to the two potential absentees.
As such, the Australia series could see India trying out different combinations again but according to former Pakistan captain and bowling legend Wasim Akram, the series is “unnecessary” as it might add to the fatigue for Indian players. The side has been on the road since August with a full-fledged tour of the West Indies before the Asia Cup, which spanned over two weeks. With little time to rest between the Australia ODIs and the World Cup, Akram believes that it may not be in the best of interests for Indian players to take part in the bilateral series.
“There are different venues and traveling in India… it takes a day (between every match). You need to preserve energy before the World Cup. I don’t know why they are playing three ODIs. It is probably done a long time ago, but it was a bit unnecessary. You don’t want to be tired before a mega-tournament where you are favourites at home. If you want some more players in the squad, you can play those in the three ODIs against Australia,” Akram said on Star Sports following India’s win in the Asia Cup final.
India at the World Cup
Team India will take part in two warm-up matches before the World Cup against England (September 30) and Netherlands (October 3) before beginning the tournament proper against Australia four days later. The side’s iconic clash against arch-rivals Pakistan takes place at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.