Calcutta: Who knows what could have happened had Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan not collided with each other and made a mess of the catch offered by Kusal Perera in the third over of the match? Kusal went onto score 64.
Could Sri Lanka still chase down the 265-run target had Dinesh Karthik stumped Kumar Sangakkara when the Lankan batsman was on 30? Sangakkara went on to play a Man of the Match-winning innings of 103 off 84 balls. Then, when the Lankans needed just one run off the last over to win, Dhawan dropped a dolly offered by Thisara Perera. With Sri Lanka eight down, one more could have certainly made things interesting.
So at the end of the day, much of the blame for India’s two-wicket defeat in their second match of the Asia Cup would go to poor fielding. Stand-in India captain Virat Kohli felt India were 25-30 runs short. Maybe that’s true, but 264 was certainly not a losing total provided the chances were taken.
Both Kohli and his counterpart, Angelo Mathews, however, spoke of the dew factor. Obviously, it came to the aid of the Lankans, who batted second, and made things difficult for the Indians.
The following are excerpts
Angelo Mathews: I had to go out of the field as my groin was feeling a bit stiff. But I am happy that I could return to the field.
I am happy with our performance today, especially the bowlers. Restricting India to 264 was a brilliant effort. Kumar Sangakkara, the champion batsman, came into the party. It’s a treat watching him bat. He scored a magnificent century. Ajantha Mendis is our trump card and the dew factor came into play while chasing, which made our job a bit easier.
Virat Kohli: The bowlers did a good job… There was a lot of dew in the last ten overs. We didn’t expect the dew because on Thursday there was no dew and it was windy as well.
While batting, we didn’t specifically plan to go after the bowlers after the drinks session. It’s a bit difficult to say it that way and presume when a batsman would play his shots and go after the bowlers. I think we could have been smarter while batting. We could have got 25-30 runs more had we been that... Ravindra Jadeja was brilliant with the ball. We were just waiting for the ball to turn, but unfortunately the dew came in. The big game against Pakistan is coming up and we need to pull our socks up. We have to rectify the areas we are not good at. We just have to play smart cricket and we are looking forward to the Pakistan match.
Kumar Sangakkara (MoM): The dew in the outfield made my job easier and I am lucky that I could pick quite a few good options to go after. My job was to stretch the game as long as possible and stay competitive. Apart from all these factors, another factor that really helped our cause is that we had a great start to our chase by Kusal and Thirimanne. Then I came in and did my bit.
It was a great team effort, but yes experience does come into play sometimes. I have been lucky to score quite a few runs over the last few months. I have worked really hard, my fitness has been good and I have been able to convert starts.