DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Sri Lanka stunned India with yet another aggressive run-chase in the Asia Cup and recorded a six-wicket win in the Super 4 on Tuesday.
Half centuries by opening pair of Kusal Mendis (57) and Pathum Nissanka (52) led Sri Lanka to 174-4 for its third straight successful run-chase of 170-plus in the tournament.
Indian skipper Rohit Sharma turned around his below-par batting form with 72 off 41 balls to anchor his team to 173-8 after Virat Kohli went for zero and the middle order failed to fire in the death overs for the second successive game.
“The confidence in the dressing room is great,” Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka said. “Pathum and Kusal set the tone brilliantly and (Bhanuka) Rajapaksa and I set up the chase.”
The right-armed Dilshan Madhushanka (3-24) clean bowled Kohli in his second over and then reined in Indian power-hitters in the return spell with the wickets of Rishabh Pant and Deepak Hooda.
Sharma, who was looking well settled, holed out in the 13th over off medium fast bowler Chamika Karunaratne and Madhushanka bowled brilliantly in the death overs to peg back India’s hopes of putting up a daunting total.
“The guys out in the middle need to learn what they need to do and what kind of shot-making can happen,” Sharma said. “This team was on a good run for a long time, such losses will help us better to learn as a team.”
Mendis and Nissanka raised Sri Lanka’s best opening partnership in a T20 against India when they racked up 97 runs in 11 overs in a superb display of aggressive batting upfront.
India pacers couldn’t find any seam or swing under lights as both Mendis and Nissanka smashed 57 runs in the first six overs of batting powerplay.
India came back through spinner Yuzvendra Chahal’s (3-34) triple strike in his last two overs.
Nissanka, who hit four boundaries and two sixes, was Chahal's first wicket while playing an extravagant reverse sweep and two balls later Charith Asalanka got his second zero in the tournament when he top edged a sweep against the leg-spinner at deep square leg.
India’s seasoned off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, playing in his first game of the tournament, had Danushka Gunathilaka caught at long on in the next over and Chahal made it 110-3 in the 15th over by having Mendis plumb leg before wicket.
India tried to squeeze out Sri Lanka but Bhuvneshwar Kumar faltered yet again in the penultimate over and conceded 14 which featured two back-to-back boundaries by Shanaka.
Shanaka made an unbeaten 33 off 18 balls and Bhanuka Rajapaksa scored 25 not out as Sri Lanka reached home with a ball to spare.
“We ended up on the wrong side, just as simple as that,” Sharma said. “The kind of runs we got, we could have capitalized a bit more, we were 10-15 runs short.”
Sri Lanka had made a remarkable comeback in the tournament. After losing its opening group game against Afghanistan, it chased down big totals against Bangladesh to qualify for Super 4 and beat Afghanistan in the first Super 4 match.
India won both its group games, but stumbled in the Super 4 as it also failed to defend 181 against archrival Pakistan last Sunday. If Pakistan beats Afghanistan on Wednesday, India will be eliminated and both Pakistan and Sri Lanka will qualify.
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