MS Dhoni India
India captain MS Dhoni. Reuters

India have been the dominant side in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 by a country mile.

On Thursday, against Sri Lanka in the semifinals in Cardiff, India were scaringly ruthless again - so dominant that even skipper MS Dhoni had time to roll his arm over -- not giving their neighbours the slightest of sniffs en route to an eight-wicket win.

India now face hosts England in the finals of the Champions Trophy at Edgbaston on Sunday, in what promises to be a cracker of a contest.

On a cloudy day in Cardiff, with the threat of rain looming large, it was the India bowlers that needed to be feared as they tore into the Sri Lankan batsmen like hyenas in sight of their prey - in the kindest, yet ruthless manner possible.

On a pitch that offered quite a bit of swing and seam for the bowlers, India made full use of the conditions to restrict Sri Lanka to 181 for eight in 50 overs, with man of the match Ishant Sharma and R Ashwin picking up three wickets each.

In reply, India were almost in sleep mode really as Shikhar Dhawan (68) played another little gem, with Virat Kohli also getting in on the act with an unbeaten 58 as India cruised to 182 for two in a mere 34.4 overs.

If Sri Lanka were to stand any chance of pulling off an improbable win, they needed to pick up early wickets - and plenty of them.

However, with the form that Rohit Sharma and Dhawan are on, it was always going to be a tall order.

India's brilliant opening duo put on 77 runs together for the first wicket, negotiating the likes of Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara with relative ease, and extinguishing any chances of an incredible Sri Lankan fightback.

Rohit was well set on 33 (50b, 4x4) when he decided to charge Angelo Mathews for absolutely no reason. The India opener missed the ball completely and saw the ball clip the top of leg stump.

Kohli, though, came in and immediately looked assured, and with Dhawan at his arrogant best at the other end, there was only going to be one result.

Dhawan (68, 92b, 6x4, 1x6) fell late on, stumped by Kumar Sangakkara after failing to pick up a googly from Jeevan Mendis. But Kohli (58, 64b, 4x4, 1x6) and Raina saw the rest of the target through to seal their place in the finals.

It was a good toss to win for MS Dhoni, and the bowlers backed him up brilliantly with almost every single one of them making good use of the pitch and conditions.

It was a typical English summer's day - cold, cloudy with the imminent threat of rain hanging around in the background.

Thankfully and surprisingly, the rain stayed away in the entire match, allowing the Indian bowlers to have a good uninterrupted go at the batsmen.

After a couple of tight overs, Kusal Perera, so disappointing in this series, was walking back to the pavilion, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar finding the now familiar outside edge of the left-handed batsman to Suresh Raina at second slip -- the first three wickets all read caught Raina in second slip.

Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara attempted to weather the storm, but Sri Lanka were dealt another blow with Dilshan pulling what looked like a calf muscle, forcing him to retire hurt.

Lahiru Thirimanne was again sent ahead of Mahela Jayawardene, and the young left-hander did really well alongside his more illustrious teammate Sangakkara, frustrating the Indian bowlers for over ten overs - even if only 19 runs were scored during that spell.

The Indian bowlers kept going past the outside edge with maiden overs very much becoming the norm rather than the exception - not a single Indian bowler had an economy rate of over five.

Something had to give and it was Sri Lanka who blinked first, with the excellent Ishant Sharma striking twice in two overs.

Thirimanne, who scored seven runs from 31 balls, found the outside edge off Sharma with Raina again pouncing with delight.

Sangakkara, who looked determined to battle on and stay at the crease for as long as possible, was the next to find that dreaded outside edge off another peach from Sharma - and yes, Raina obliged again at second slip -- leaving Sri Lanka on 41 for three.

Then came the biggest partnership of the innings between Jayawardene and skipper Angelo Mathews, with the two allying for 78 runs from a decent 18.1 overs.

The duo minimized the risk, while also ensuring the scoreboard kept ticking along with the peerless Jayawardene looking in control.

Seeing the ball moving around, Dhoni gave the crowd something to cheer about by dropping the pads and gloves and bringing himself on, knowing he had a readymade replacement in Dinesh Karthik to take his place behind the stumps.

The India captain is quite a decent bowler, able to swing the ball quite considerably and the decision seemed like a masterstroke when Dhoni seemingly trapped Jayawardene in front of the stumps with umpire Aleem Dar raising his finger, much to the delight of the majority Indian crowd.

However, Jayawardene asked for a review, and replays, unfortunately for India and Dhoni, who finished with figures of 4-0-17-0, showed an inside edge, thus tempering India's celebrations.

Sri Lanka used the DRS to good use, actually, with Mathews also surviving an lbw decision off Ravindra Jadeja after initially being given out.

However, just when it looked like the two Sri Lankan batsmen would take their side to a decent score beyond 200, India's main man with the ball in the Champions Trophy struck.

Ravindra "Rockstar" Jadeja just pushed one onto the stumps, like he always does, with Jayawardene (38, 63b, 3x4), looking for a pull through midwicket, missing the ball completely and seeing his timber disturbed.

Mathews continued batting well at the other end, combining well the Jeevan Mendis, to reach his half-century.

India's other main spinner, R Ashwin, though, dismissed the Sri Lanka captain soon after, with Mathews (51, 89b, 1x4, 1x6) getting a leading edge to Bhuvneshwar Kumar at cover while attempting a slog over midwicket.

Ishant (three for 33) and Ashwin (three for 48) kept things tight in the final overs, while picking up a further three wickets to keep the score well below 200.

England now lie in wait for India, and if Dhoni and co. continue anything like the form they have shown the entire tournament, there is really going to be only one winner, even with England's formidable bowling attack. 

Quick Links