The 29-year-old took four wickets in an over leaving the Sri Lankan team in an embarrassing situation. Sri Lanka had elected to bat first. However, after a few overs, the team’s batting lineup tumbled as it lost its first six wickets for 12 runs. Their innings ended in just 15.2 overs.
India raced to the 51-run target in 6.1 overs with Shubman Gill (27 not out) and Ishan Kishan (23 not out) in the middle.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 50 all out in 15.2 overs (Kusal Mendis 17; Mohammed Siraj 6/21, Hardik Pandya 3/3). India 51 for no loss in 6.1 overs (Shubman Gill 27 not out, Ishan Kishan 23 not out).
The ‘Siraj’ Factor
Leaving spectators spell-bound, Mohammad Siraj played one of the best innings of his career so far in the Asia Cup 2023 finals on September 17. He was also awarded the ‘player of the match’ title at the end of the match.
Siraj ended with dream figures of six for 21 in seven overs. After bowling a maiden over, Siraj struck four times in the single over to leave Sri Lanka wobbling at 12/5 after the end of the 4th over.After bowling a maiden over, Siraj struck four times in the single over to leave Sri Lanka wobbling at 12/5 after the end of the 4th over.He had Pathum Nissanka caught at point off the very first ball of the over. He followed it up with the wickets of Sadeera Samarawickrama and Charith Asalanka off the third and fourth balls of the over respectively. Samarawickrama was trapped lbw, while Asalanka was caught in the covers.
Off the final delivery, he had Dhananjaya de Silva caught behind. He followed up this magical over with another wicket. He cleaned up Shanaka in his very next over. Within 16 balls ‘Miyan Magic’ completed his fifer.
With this, he completed a five-for off merely 16 balls. This equals the world record for the quickest five-for (ever since ball-by-ball data became available). He shares this with Sri Lanka’s Chaminda Vaas, who had picked five wickets against Bangladesh off merely 16 balls in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2003.
‘It was my destiny’
Commenting on his performance during the mid-innings break, Siraj said, “Jitna naseeb mein hota hai wahi milta, aaj mera naseeb tha (You get what’s in our destiny, today it was my destiny).”
He was particularly referring to the third ODI in Thiruvananthapuram during Sri Lanka’s tour of India where he got four wickets early but could not manage a five-for as Sri Lanka folded for 73 while chasing a stiff 391.
“Last time, I did the same against Sri Lanka at Trivandrum. Got four wickets early, couldn’t get the five-for. I’ve been bowling well since a long time but missing the edges and finally got them today. I did not try too much today. I have always looked for swing in white-ball cricket and did not find much in the previous games,” he said.
“But today it was swinging, and I got more wickets with the outswinger. Such was the swing I was getting on this wicket that I tried to entice the batter to go on the front foot and make them drive,” he further added.
The strategy was to bowl fuller and it paid off, Siraj later said while receiving the award during the post-match presentation. He even donated his player-of-the-match cash prize of USD 5,000 to the Sri Lankan groundstaff who worked tirelessly through the rain-hit Asia Cup.
“This cash prize goes to the groundsmen. They deserve it fully, this tournament wouldn’t have been possible without them,” Siraj said.
India’s hit & trial experiment
The Asia Cup did set a stage for team India and more importantly, it gave the team to analyse its chances and make a strong team before the ball is set rolling for the World Cup, which is in less than three weeks now.
The men in blue tried a few combinations to see who fits where during the Asia Cup. For long, India has been dealing with its middle order and is trying to fix it. This tournament however, saw Ishan Kishan’s flexibility to adapt to the team’s requirement in the middle.
While KL Rahul made an epic comeback against Pakistan with a century and after a long time away due to injury, Shreyas Iyer on the other hand, couldn’t do much. Rahul also managed well in gloves behind the stumps.
During India versus Bangladesh, players like Mohammed Shami, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma and Prasidh Krishna fancied some game time, which enabled team India to test their readiness in case they are needed in a dire situation.
In the Sunday’s final clash, Ishan Kishan got on the field instead of India’s skipper and opener Rohit Sharma. This gave an opportunity for the young player from Patna to showcase his skills even on the top.
Here is a look at the records that were scripted during the match.
- Sri Lanka registered its lowest ODI score against India after the fall of its fifth wicket (12 for 5).
- At 12 for 6, Lanka recorded the lowest ODI score at the fall of the sixth wicket by an ICC full-member nation.
- Siraj scalped his 50th ODI wicket in this game, which arrived in 1,002 deliveries, the second fastest by any bowler in the format. The record is held by Ajantha Mendis (847 balls).
- India grabbed six wickets in the opening ten overs of the contest, which is the most for the side in the format till date.
- Siraj is only the second bowler after Mendis to grasp a six-for in an Asia Cup ODI.
- Lanka’s total score of 50 in this fixture is the lowest versus India in the format. Also, it is the lowest in any ODI final to date.
- Siraj’s figures of 6 for 21 is the best by any bowler against Lanka in ODIs.
- It was only the second time in the competition’s ODI history that the pacers held all ten wickets in a clash. The other instance also happened in this edition when Pakistan seamers achieved the feat against India in a washed out group match.
- Sri Lanka has became the full-member Asian side to be dismissed in the fewest overs of an ODI (15.2).
- Siraj’s figures are also the best by any Indian pacer in an ODI final, besides being the second best after Anil Kumble’s 6 for 12 in the 1993 Hero Cup Final.
- Siraj also became the first Indian to get four wickets in an over in international cricket.
- Siraj took just 16 balls to seize his fifth wicket of the encounter, the least by any bowler in an ODI.
- Siraj is only the second man after Ashish Nehra to clutch a six-for in an ODI versus Lanka.
- India has become the only team to win an ODI final by ten wickets on two occasions, with the other being against Zimbabwe in Sharjah in 1998 (197 for 0).
- It is also the biggest ODI win for the Indians in terms of balls to spare (263), besides also being the biggest in an ODI final.
- It is the briefest ODI involving India, with only 129 deliveries being bowled.
Legends laud Siraj
Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar on Sunday lauded Siraj as he congratulated Indian cricket team on their historic win.
Tendulkar wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter), “Congratulations #TeamIndia on an emphatic victory! A difficult day indeed for Sri Lankan cricket. Must say, @mdsirajofficial’s upfront spell was rather spicy to handle! Well done,”
Former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly showed his faith in the Indian team and said, “I said at the start .. this is a very strong team .. they looked superb throughout ..well done team india.. Rohit sharma second Asia cup title .. well done Rohit, Dravid, support staff selectors and all the team members @bcci.”
Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir in simple words extended his wishes to the team and wrote, “What an emphatic win India! Next step WC.”
Former cricketer Venkatesh Prasad praised Siraj and wrote, “Clinical win for Team India. Siraj was exceptional and many boxes ticked for us. Congratulations @BCCI on winning the Asia Cup.”
BCCI secretary Jay Shah wrote a special message for the Indian team, “The 2023 Asia Cup victory was a testament to our unity and determination! @mdsirajofficial 6-wicket haul was a standout in the finals, but it was the combined effort of our team that secured this prestigious trophy. Heartiest congratulations to the Indian Cricket Team and support staff for this fantastic achievement!”
Former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh congratulated India and wrote, “Powerful performance Team INDIA @BCCI congratulations.”
(With inputs from agencies)