After sweeping away wickets in an otherwise underwhelming Asia Cup 2023 final, Mohammad Siraj, the Indian pacer and star of the match, has extended a generous gesture towards the ground staff working hard amid Sri Lanka's rainy season.
The Asia Cup 2023, hosted by Pakistan and Sri Lanka, concluded successfully with Pakistan playing four matches and Sri Lanka playing nine during the tournament.
Rain impacted most matches that were scheduled in Sri Lanka, including a no-result in the group stage between Pakistan and India. The semi-final between Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the Super 4 stage was also affected by rain.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan ground staff were praised for their efforts to ensure the completion of rain-affected matches — something that touched the Indian bowler as well, as the 29-year-old handed over his $5,000 'Player of the Match' cheque to the ground staff at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
Siraj, who proved to be a game-changer in the Asia Cup finale, said: "This award goes to the ground staff. Without them, this tournament wouldn't have been possible. They deserve all the credit."
The chief of the Asian Cricket Council, Jay Shah, too, announced a $50,000 award on behalf of the ACC and Sri Lanka Cricket for curators and ground staff working in Kandy.
Siraj's excellent bowling performance on Sunday disrupted the Sri Lankan batting lineup, as he took six wickets for 21 runs in his overs, restricting them to a mere 50 runs. India's win was followed up by a fast-paced chase to secure their eighth Asia Cup title.
The pacer first removed Pathum Nissanka and followed up with wickets of Charith Asalanka, Sadeera Samarawickrama and Dhananjaya de Silva to leave Sri Lanka struggling at 12 for five in four overs.
The right-arm pacer ended with an historic figure of six for 21 in seven overs.
With his remarkable achievement, Siraj equalled former Sri Lanka pacer Chaminda Vaas for the quickest ODI five-for, reaching the feat in just 16 balls. Vaas achieved the milestone against Bangladesh in 2003.
He also completed 50 ODI wickets during the spell, reaching the milestone in his 29th ODI, the joint-fourth-quickest among all Indian bowlers.
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