New Delhi:Ajanta Mendis's mystery 'carrom ball' knocked India out cold and helped Sri Lanka win their fourth Asia Cup title on Sunday.
Sri Lanka won by 100 runs having scored a modest 273 all out at Karachi's National Stadium. It is the lowest score a team has defended in this tournament, and it is India's 22nd loss in their last 24 ODI finals.
The little-known seam and spin bowler was practically unplayable on the night. His figures of 8-1-6-13 are the best in Asia Cup history.
Mendis's remarkable spell began after Sanath Jayasuriya clobbered a 79-ball hundred with the Lankans in some trouble having been asked to bat by M.S. Dhoni.
Chasing 274 and their fifth Asia Cup title, India got off to another blazing start with Virender Sehwag's 60 from 36 balls. But the game turned on its head when Mahela Jayawardene brought Mendis on.
The spell that changed it all
Mendis mixes seam and spin and has a peculiar delivery, which he flicks with his middle finger, almost like hitting a striker while playing carrom.
It had helped him take 5-31 against Pakistan in a league match earlier in the tournament. With Sunday's haul, he finished with 16 wickets, the most by a bowler in one edition of the continental championship.
Mendis struck big in his first over of the game. The impetuous Sehwag stepped out to cut his second delivery, missed the line and got stumped.
Two balls later, Yuvraj Singh played around a straight ball that stayed low and was bowled for zero.
Suresh Raina then played a horrific swing across the line, missed, and was bowled.
Rohit Sharma, struggling to read the bowler's hand, fell LBW to a ball that pitched around leg and cut away from him.
Mendis's mesmerising first spell read 4-0-8-4 and Sri Lanka had one hand firmly on the trophy. From 76-1 after nine overs, India slipped to 97-5 in the 16th over.
Earlier, Gautam Gambhir had become India's first fall, when he stepped out to cut Chaminda Vaas and hit a poorly timed slash to point.
With the top order blown away by Mendis, it left Dhoni and Robin Uthappa to play damage control. It wasn't easy, since Muttiah Muralitharan bowled a miserly spell from the other end.
Uthappa's watchful 20 (41 balls, 2x4) ended when he was trapped in front by Murali.
Then, Mendis came back for a second spell and struck twice in his sixth over. Irfan Pathan, who'd had a woeful tournament, couldn't read a googly and edged it to slip.
Next ball, R.P Singh couldn't read a leg cutter and got bowled. Pragyan Ojha survived a huge leg before shout the next ball, but Simon Taufel, the umpire, wasn't keen on Mendis having his hat trick.
Mendis's figures read 6-0-9-6 at this stage.
The one man who stood between Sri Lanka and victory was Dhoni (74 balls, 4x4). And when he edged Vaas behind to Kumar Sangakkara, India's last hope departed.
Ishant Sharma and Ojha stood around, delaying the inevitable, but Nuwan Kulasekara bowled Ishant to round off a comprehensive win.
Jayasuriya: 25 going on 39
In the morning, Jayasuriya spanking 79-ball hundred led Sri Lanka's revival in the final after they'd been reduced to 66-4 at one stage.
Jayasuriya (125, 114 balls, 9x4, 5x6) batted with typical dislike for bowlers, reaching his fifty in 43 balls.
With Ishant striking thrice in a key spell, the Lankans were 66-4 in the 12th over when the veteran cut loose, become the first man to score two ODI hundreds after his 39th birthday.
Jayasuriya found an ally in Tillakaratne Dilshan (56, 74 balls, 3x4). The two added 131 runs for the fifth wicket.
The partnership notwithstanding, Sri Lanka lost wickets at regular intervals.
Their in-form opener Kumar Sangakkara was run out in the second over. His miscommunication with Sanath Jayasuriya saw him out of the non-striker's end when Suresh Raina's direct hit homed in.
Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene cut straight to point to give Ishant his first wicket.
Chamara Kapugedera mistimed a drive off Ishant to cover, while, in the same over, Chamara Silva played on.
Here, Jayasuriya hit R.P. Singh for 26 in an over that read 6, 6, 4, 4, 0 and 6. R.P had dropped Jayasuriya in the previous over at mid on. He misjudged the flight of the catch while running back and missed it completely. From 35/2 in eight overs, Sri Lanka moved to 116/4 in 16.
Jayasuriya battled exhaustion and dehydration. He finally holed out to deep midwicket off the part-time fare of Virender Sehwag, who bowled well in tandem with Pragyan Ojha and Rohit Sharma.
The three spinners conceded less than four an over in their 21 overs, while Irfan Pathan and R.P. Singh gave away runs in oodles.
Dilshan fell caught behind off Pathan, while Chaminda Vaas was bowled by R.P.
Kulasekara threw around his bat at the end for a run-a-ball 29 that took Sri Lanka to a respectable score.