Sri Lanka held off a fighting India to record a six-wicket win in their Asia Cup Super 4 clash here on Tuesday. Only a few favourable results, and an India win in its last Super 4 match (against Afghanistan on Thursday) can allow the side to progress to the final.
Chasing 174, Sri Lanka crossed the finish line with one ball to spare.
Sri Lanka was given the ideal platform by openers Pathum Nissanka (52, 37b, 4x4, 2x6) and Kusal Mendis (57, 37b, 4x4, 3x6).
It took a brilliant over from leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal to pull India back into the contest. Chahal first got Nissanka to mis-hit a reverse-sweep, and three deliveries later, tempted Charith Asalanka (0) to sweep a flighted ball to deep backward square.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin then took out Danushka Gunathilaka with a similarly tossed up delivery. When Chahal’s quicker one thudded into Mendis’ pads, India had Sri Lanka on the ropes at 110 for four.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa (25 n.o., 17b, 2x6) and captain Dasun Shanaka (33 n.o., 18b, 4x4, 1x6), however, stood tall. The duo ran hard and put away the bad balls to chip away at the target.
It came down to the last over, bowled by Arshdeep Singh, with Sri Lanka needing seven to win. The left-arm speared in the yorkers, but all it took was singles and twos for the Lankans to get the job done.
Earlier, Sri Lanka grabbed wickets at regular intervals to keep India to a par score. Save for Rohit Sharma (72, 41b, 5x4, 4x6) and Suryakumar Yadav (34, 29b, 1x4, 1x6), the rest of the Indian batters came a cropper.
The start was disastrous, with KL Rahul and Virat Kohli departing early. Rahul (6) rushed down the track to spinner Maheesh Theeksana only for the ball to hit his foot. Rahul reviewed the leg-before verdict but replays showed that leg stump would have been clipped.
Kohli, rather uncharacteristically, slogged across the line to lose his stumps to Dilshan Madushanka.
Rohit and Suryakumar got together with India in trouble at 13 for two. Rohit came alive in the fifth over, bowled by Asitha Fernando, hooking the fast bowler for a six, and following it up with a cut for four.
The skipper later struck spinner Wanindu Hasaranga for two straight maximums to keep the run rate healthy. He received a life on 40, when Shanaka put down a tough chance at cover.
Rohit departed in the 13th over, cutting a short ball from Chamika Karunaratne to deep point. The 97-run third-wicket stand between Rohit and Suryakumar put India in a good position.
The hard work, however, was undone when wickets started to tumble. Suryakumar attempted to play the upper cut to a slower ball, and was only able to lob the ball to short third-man. Hardik Pandya (17) and Rishabh Pant (17) could not cut loose, both holing out to boundary riders.
Deepak Hooda (3, 4b), slotted at number seven as the finisher, failed to deliver.