Asia Cup 2023: Dunith Wellalage’s drift spins a web around India

Sep 12, 2023

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Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma (Photo Source: twitter)

Prior to taking the field, Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill proudly flaunted their remarkable feat of crafting two century-plus partnerships at the tournament’s outset. Rohit, the elegant right-hander, commenced his innings in style, dispatching boundaries with finesse. In contrast, young Shubman Gill found himself ensnared in a precarious situation.

Gill cautiously embarked on his innings, aiming to capitalise on the solid foundation. However, his progress was painstakingly gradual, as he negotiated 25 deliveries for a mere 19 runs, resulting in a strike rate below 100. His innings was ultimately cut short by a mesmerising delivery from the Sri Lankan spinner, Wellalage, in the first ball of the 12th over.

Wellalage delivered a tantalising flighted ball from around the wicket. Gill lured into the defence and was left confounded by the spin as the ball gracefully skirted past the outside edge and found its mark, crashing into the top of the off-stump. It was indeed a spinner’s dream delivery, one that could leave even the most seasoned of batters awestruck.

India’s dynamic duo fall for Wellalage’s mystery

Virat Kohli, riding the wave of his recent outstanding performance against Pakistan, where he notched an unbeaten 122, entered the crease with high expectations. In a riveting encounter, Wellalage, bowling his second over, meticulously maintained a disciplined line and length, managing to peg Kohli back with four consecutive dot balls.

However, it was the fifth delivery that proved to be the game-changer. Wellalage altered his strategy, opting for a shorter length, and the ball clung to the pitch, depriving Kohli of the anticipated pace to execute his flick shot. Instead, he could only chip it tamely to mid-wicket, where Danus Shanaka embraced the opportunity gleefully. With this untimely dismissal, Kohli was forced to exit the stage, having contributed a mere three runs to the scoreboard.

But Wellalage’s impact did not halt there. He orchestrated a pivotal breakthrough in the 16th over of the innings by dismantling the well-set Rohit Sharma. In stark contrast to his previous deliveries, Wellalage unleashed an arm-ball, pitching it ever so slightly shorter. Rohit, perhaps caught off guard by the variation, opted to stay back in an attempt to counter the delivery. However, to his dismay, the ball refused to bounce as expected, eluding the toe-end of his bat, and instead crashed into the leg-stump with a resounding thud. Rohit, who had battled valiantly, was left with no choice but to trudge back to the pavilion after a commendable effort, having accrued a hard-fought 53 runs from 58 deliveries.

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