An absorbing tournament with few watchers

When a major tournament involving the continent’s four Test playing nations is held entirely in a small town, you’d expect the place to be buzzing with excitement. During the league phase of the Asia Cup, though, barring the jacked-up security presence and hotel rates, Dambulla barely acknowledged its existence. There was no sense of anticipation regarding the matches, no billboards or posters advertising that the tournament was on, and until you got within sight of the stadium, you didn’t even see any flags or face-painted fans.

Seamers set up India’s thumping title win

India’s under-fire seam attack came good when it mattered, setting up fourth win in seven tournament finals for MS Dhoni’s side, a statistic that makes a mockery of India’s abysmal record in finals. The conditions did support them as they were bowling under the lights in Dambulla, but it was a huge improvement from two nights ago: all three of Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra bowled tight lines, all three got movement both ways, extra bounce, and consequently wickets.

Maharoof’s five-for leads Sri Lanka’s huge win

Three wickets for 19 runs stalled India’s start, and then Farveez Maharoof’s hat-trick, during a period of play when four wickets fell for no runs, destroyed the middle order’s rebuild and practically finished the dress rehearsal for the final in Sri Lanka’s favour. Thrice India seemed to have inched ahead of the game, thrice a spirited Sri Lanka pulled them back through superb fielding and persistent bowling.

Dilshan stars in Sri Lanka’s bonus-point win

Tillakaratne Dilshan all but scuttled Bangladesh’s hopes of staying competitive in the Asia Cup and helped earn Sri Lanka a bonus point in the process. He blazed to a half-century, providing thrust for the first-ever total in excess of 300 in Dambulla, and then exercised control over Bangladesh’s escalating run-rate, while ripping out three wickets to end the visitors’ chances of an improbable victory.

Dilshan century drives Sri Lanka to title

On the final day of the tri-series, the clock struck 12 and Zimbabwe’s Cinderella XI ran into harsh reality. Put into bat, they were accosted by top-quality swing bowling from Nuwan Kulasekara and Dilhara Fernando, and the damage done in those early overs was too great to reverse for a resourceful Tatenta Taibu, who swept and hustled his way to 71. Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga were ruthless in finishing Zimbabwe off with a 160-run opening stand.

ICC says Sri Lanka Cup venues on track

Sri Lanka’s new venues for next year’s World Cup are on track but the refurbishment of an existing stadium is behind schedule, the International Cricket Council said on Monday.

Sri Lanka, which is co-hosting the tournament with India and Bangladesh, is set to stage 12 matches at the Premadasa stadium in Colombo and at the newly built grounds in Pallekele and Hambantota, outside the capital.

“With the exception of the Premadasa stadium, others are on track to play a few first-class and international matches before the tournament starts next February,” ICC’s structural engineer, Eugene van Vuuren, said.

Spinners, Taylor trounce Sri Lanka by eight wickets

Who’d a thunk it? Zimbabwe finished the league stage at the top of the table, winning comprehensively all their 50-over matches, and losing the one that was truncated to 26. Even in the first quarter of the final league match, a dead rubber, Sri Lanka seemed to have run away with the game, having scored 122 for no loss thanks largely to a rollicking start from Tillakaratne Dilshan. Zimbabwe’s army of spinners – accurate, aggressive, aided by good fielding – then came into action, and Sri Lanka managed only 114 in the rest of the piece. The chase hardly ever looked difficult, and once again Brendan Taylor was at the centre of it, scoring only his second ODI hundred and overhauling his personal best.

Spinners, Dilshan humble Zimbabwe

“Frankly today we were rubbish,” said Zimbabwe’s new coach Alan Butcher. And he was right. It was a one-way street in Bulawayo. Only Hamilton Masakadza turned up for Zimbabwe. Sri Lanka attacked from every corner, with spin and seam, to strangle and harass the hosts who just about managed to get past 100. Only Masakadza managed to successfully combine aggressive intent with the required skill that the rain-reduced 26-over game demanded of the batsmen. It was Sri Lanka, led by Ajantha Mendis, who called all the shots and Tillakaratne Dilshan ensured they earned a bonus point and took the top spot with a breezy knock.

Rohit’s second ton seals comfortable win

What stood out was the ease with which India overhauled Sri Lanka’s 242, with nearly seven overs to spare. Virat Kohli played a mature hand and Rohit Sharma overcame moments of impetuousness to hit a delightful hundred, his second successive effort of the tournament, as the pair sparkled in a 154-run partnership to charge India to a facile win.

Seamers set up comprehensive win for Sri Lanka

Nuwan Kulasekara found the perfect lines and lengths for the slow and low track that the USA has dished out, and ripped the heart out of New Zealand’s batting with three wickets in his first over. Although Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum, the only New Zealanders to reach double figures, avoided the ignominy of the lowest total in Twenty20 internationals, 81 was never going to test Sri Lanka even on this pitch.