CARDIFF, June 20 (Reuters) - India exploited conditions ideally suited to their impressive pace bowlers on Thursday to restrict Sri Lanka to 181 for eight in the second Champions Trophy semi-final in Cardiff.
The winners play England in Sunday’s final at Edgbaston in Birmingham.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews top-scored with a battling 51 from 89 deliveries after his opposite number MS Dhoni had opted to field under heavy cloud cover with moisture in the air following a 30-minute rain delay.
Dhoni set attacking fields throughout and even relinquished his wicket-keeping kit after the 22nd over to bowl his medium-pacers. In 222 previous one-day internationals Dhoni had bowled only two overs.
Dinesh Karthik, also a specialist wicketkeeper, took over from Dhoni who won an lbw decision against Mahela Jayawardene with his second delivery.
However, umpire Aleem Dar was forced to reverse his verdict when Jayawardene asked for a review and the television replay showed the batsman had got an inside edge on to the pads. After bowling four overs for 17 runs, Dhoni resumed his wicketkeeping duties.
The India pace bowlers zipped the ball both ways off a full length and Kusal Perera (4) and Lahiru Thirimanne (7) quickly fell to smart catches at second slip by Suresh Raina.
Raina snaffled a third when Kumar Sangakkara (17) fended a nasty delivery low to his right and Sri Lanka were reduced to 41 for three after 18 overs. Only 26 runs were scored in the first 10-over powerplay with three maidens.
Sri Lanka were also denied the services of Tillakaratne Dilshan, who pulled a short-pitched delivery from Umesh Yadav for four and unfurled a glorious off-drive which also sped to the boundary.
He then started to hobble after driving to leg, received treatment to the back of his right thigh and carried on batting in obvious discomfort for three further deliveries before retiring hurt on 12. Dilshan, still limping, returned at the fall of the seventh wicket to add six runs to his score without being dismissed.
Jayawardene and Mathews painstakingly set about restoring Sri Lanka’s fortunes, with the latter striking Ishant Sharma over long-on for the only six of the innings.
But they were unable to break the shackles imposed by the Indian spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, who provided admirable support for the pacemen.
After adding 78 from 113 deliveries with Mathews, Jayawardene was bowled by left-armer Jadeja for 38, swinging across the line.
Mathews survived a chance to Virat Kholi at long-on off Ashwin but was caught in the covers by Bhuvneshwar Kumar two balls later. (Editing by Toby Davis)