“The tournament had once again returned to Sri Lanka. The defending champions were now backing themselves, even more, to defend the title for the second consecutive time. Little did the Lions know that the Indian giants were going to surprise them in their own jungle”

Sri Lanka 2010

It was India who had dominated the initial years of the Asia Cup winning four out of the first six editions. However, as the tournament stepped in the 21st century, India were yet to win one and it was Sri Lanka who had claimed the title twice in three editions. It seemed like it was going to be the age of Lankan domination over India. But the Indian team were going to make a fresh start once again.

The tournament had once again returned to Sri Lanka. The defending champions were now backing themselves, even more, to defend the title for the second consecutive time. Little did the Lions know that the Indian giants were going to surprise them in their own jungle.

Bright start for Sri Lanka 

It started with a thrilling victory for the hosts against a dangerous Pakistani team. Pakistan had done well to restrict Sri Lanka to a modest total of 242/9. It was Angelo Mathews’ unbeaten 55 that had added some sort of respectability to the score. Pakistan were backing themselves to chase it down but the defending champions were not someone who would give up easily.

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They had Pakistan on the mat having reduced them to 32/4. But once Shahid Afridi walked out, he went all bonkers as he smashed 109 runs off just 76 deliveries. But he didn’t get enough support from the other end and Lasith Malinga produced a magical spell of 5/34 to bring an end to their run chase. They were ultimately bowled out for 226 runs in what was a thrilling match.

Bangladesh disappoint

The next two matches turned out to be one-sided affairs as India and Sri Lanka drubbed Bangladesh in consecutive matches. India chased down Bangladesh’s 167 easily with 6 wickets remaining in the first match and then the Tigers were bowled out for a paltry 186 runs trying to chase down Sri Lanka’s total of 312.

Meanwhile, against Pakistan, Bangladesh completed a poor set of performance. A total of 246/5 was all they could manage on reply to Pakistan’s mammoth total of 385/7 helped by Shahid Afridi’s fiery 60-ball knock of 124 runs.

India beat Pakistan in a thrilling encounter

Then it was time for the classic encounter between arch-rivals India and Pakistan. The match went down to the wire. India had bowled Pakistan out for 267 runs with Praveen Kumar picking up 3/53. Salman Butt was the top scorer in their innings with 74 runs to his name.

It was India who edged past Pakistan in the end with one ball remaining. Gautam Gambhir was the top scorer with a knock of 83 runs whereas MS Dhoni had played well for his 56 as well. But it was Harbhajan Singh who made the difference in the end as he smashed two sixes in the last over to help India over the line. India were on course of losing the match otherwise.

In the final league match, Sri Lanka completed their unbeaten run in the league stage by beating India by 7 wickets. India failed to help their cause as Farveez Maharoof’s 5/42 broke their back. 209 runs were all they could manage with some help from Rohit Sharma’s 69 runs.

But Sri Lanka chased it down with 81 deliveries and 7 wickets to spare. Kumar Sangakkara’s 73 and Mahela Jayawardene’s unbeaten 53 played the key roles in that run chase.

At the end of the league stage, it was the hosts who had topped the table winning all three matches whereas India were placed second winning two out of three. Pakistan were placed third having lost two while Bangladesh hung on to their familiar fourth position losing all. So, Pakistan and Bangladesh had been eliminated and it was again the two most successful teams of Asia Cup who were going to lock horns with each other in the final.

India lift the trophy

It was June 24.

The venue was Dambulla.

India elected to bat first after they won the toss. Apart from Dinesh Karthik’s 66 runs there was none who had registered another fifty. But all the other batsmen hot off to decent starts and scored decent 20 or 30 odd runs. Rohit Sharma made a notable contribution of 41 runs. That helped India to a competitive total of 268/6 in their fifty overs.

Sri Lanka in reply got off to a horrible start as they lost half of their side for 51 runs. The chase looked way beyond their reach. Although Chamara Kapugedera tried to resurrect the innings with his fifty, that was never going to be enough as he didn’t find any support from the other end except Kandamby who scored 31 runs.

It was only a matter of time until they got bowled out for 187 runs. Kapugedera remained stranded at one end on 55 runs. Ashish Neha was the wrecker-in-chief as he claimed 4 wickets for 40 runs. The entire crowd at the ground looked lifeless as their team lost at their own backyard. There was a disappointment all around. But it was time for celebration India as India had claimed their first title of the 21st century and had thus reclaimed their throne.

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