The tournament brought out the depth of India as the younger squad took on the burden of taking the team to the finals without any tangible contribution from the skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and her deputy Smriti Mandhana.
The impact of the Indian team was such that skipper Harmanpreet played just four games (81 runs) and encountered only 72 balls in total in those matches.
Even Mandhana, who led in three games, skipped one game and didn’t have to contribute much.
The biggest advantage of a tournament like this is that the junior members of the Indian team were able to respond perfectly to pressure situations when thrown in at the deep end.
The most encouraging aspect was how three ‘seasoned’ youngsters — 18-year-old Shafali Verma (161 runs and 3 wickets), 22-year-old Jemimah Rodrigues (215 runs) and 25-year-old Deepti Sharma (94 runs and 13 wickets) ) raised their hands and carried the team to the top clash.
The only hiccup in an otherwise flawless campaign was a defeat to arch-rivals Pakistan as a result of bizarre planning by coach Ramesh Powar and Harmanpreet.
In any case, India will not get a chance to tie the scores with Pakistan this edition, as Sri Lanka knocked them out in the semi-finals.
At least on paper, the summit duel is a complete mismatch as only one Sri Lankan batter (Oshadi Ranasinghe) managed to scale the 100-plus strike rate.
Only two batters — Harshitha Madavi (201 runs) and Nilakshi de Silva (124 runs) — have amassed more than 100 runs in games.
Even their most famous female cricketer Chamari Athapaththu has scored 96 runs at a subpar strike rate of 85 plus. In bowling, only the left arm spinner Inoka Ranaweera (12 wickets) has looked good.
To put it bluntly, the quality of competition in Asia Cup is not great and India as a team is a few light years ahead of the other neighboring countries in both talent quotient and experience.
Therefore, Sri Lanka could find it extremely difficult to topple the Indian apple cart, although Bangladesh shocked the favorites in the final at the last edition in Malaysia four years ago.
The Sri Lankan women captivated cricket lovers around the world with a celebratory dance video (after beating Pakistan), which has since gone viral.
But if they can get past Harmanpreet’s team on Saturday, it will be icing on the cake as the men’s team already won the Asian Cup a month ago.
For India, Jemimah’s new-found consistency and Deepti’s reliability with both bat and ball have been the hallmark. Shafali, who had a bad run prior to the tournament, also found her way with the bat and bowled some nasty leg fractures as well.
What would make India favorites is the depth in their slow bowling section where Deepti, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Sneh Rana have all been very frugal.
These were the circumstances that the seamen Renuka Singh and Meghna Singh did not need much. Meghna did not play the semifinal against Thailand.
The track at Sylhet stadium was on the slower side where making strokes is extremely difficult.
In the round robin encounter between the two teams, India batted first and scored 150 and knocked out Sri Lanka for 109.
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (captain), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Shafali Verma, S Meghana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Richa Ghosh (wk), Dayalan Hemalatha, Sneh Rana, Radha Yadav, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Renuka Thakur, Meghna Singh, Kiran Navgire and Pooja Vastrakari
Sri Lanka: Chamari Athapaththu (Captain), Nilakshi de Silva, Kavisha Dilhari, Achini Kulasuriya, Sugandha Kumari, Harshitha Samarawickrama, Madhushika Methtananda, Hasini Perera, Odhadi Ranasinghe, Inoka Ranaweera, Anushka Sanjeewani and R, Maashani Shethhani