Sourav Ganguly and Yuvraj Singh played their cricket in an era when matches between India and Sri Lanka used to be a lot more competitive. The 2002 Natwest Tri-Series, the 2003 World Cup or the fiercely-contested bilateral series or the Sharjah classics – it was a period that set the tone for the India vs Sri Lanka rivalry. India may lead the head-to-head contests by quite some distance, but in the early 2000s, Sri Lanka used to win a lot more than their Asian counterparts. Among Sri Lanka’s many victories, one that India and its fans don’t look back on too fondly is the Coca-Cola Cup 2000 final in Sharjah. Sanath Jayasuriya’s remarkable innings of 189 powered Sri Lanka to a formidable total of 299/5. In response, India’s batting lineup crumbled, and they were bowled out for a mere 54 runs – a total that remains their lowest ODI score to date.
Fast forward 23 years, and in the Asia Cup final on Sunday, India exacted a measure of revenge by dismissing Sri Lanka for just 50 runs to secure their 8th title. Among the eleven players who were part of the team in Sharjah, Yuvraj Singh, couldn’t have been happier with this victory.
“The monkey is finally off our back. 23 years ago, Team India was all out for only 54 against Sri Lanka in Sharjah. Congratulations boys on a dominating performance in the Asia Cup. Looking forward to this form being carried through to World Cup,” Yuvraj posted on X (formerly Twitter).
Ganguly, who was captain of that side, lifted the team admirably from that defeat to lead India to a string of impressive victories in the years to come. Ganguly loved batting against Sri Lanka – in 40 ODI innings – in fact, the former India captain scored 1534 runs at an average of 40.37, but stumbled at the last hurdle. In 2004, when India reached the Asia Cup final under Ganguly, they fell short by 25 runs. 19 years later, India’s demolition of Sri Lanka must have given the former BCCI president a feeling of satisfaction as he expressed his emotions with an ominous World Cup warning for all opposition teams.
“I said at the start. This is a very strong team. They looked superb throughout. Well done, Team India. Second Asia cup title for Rohit Sharma. Well done, Rohit Dravid, support staff, selectors and all the team members,” wrote Ganguly on X.
India’s 10-wicket hammering also promises to ease the wounds of 2008 Asia Cup final where Sri Lanka won by 100 runs, and as well as last year when SL beat Rohit Sharma and Co. in a Super 4 match to knock the Men in Blue out of the final.