CHAMPIONS TROPHY: Sri Lanka’s masterful run-chase stuns India
Sri Lanka executed a masterful run-chase to stun holders India with a seven-wicket Champions Trophy win at The Oval and throw Group B wide open. Set 322 for victory after Shikhar Dhawan’s century, Danushka Gunathilaka (76) and Kusal Mendis (89) shared a stand of 159 before both were run out.
Kusal Perera’s 47 off 44 balls put Sri Lanka on top until he retired injured. But Angelo Matthews (52 not out) and Asela Gunaratne (34 not out) saw their side home with eight balls to spare. It is Sri Lanka’s joint-highest successful run chase in one-day internationals, having also surpassed 322 to beat England at Headingley in 2006.
Every side in Group B can still qualify for the semi-finals, with each team having taken one win and one defeat from their first two games.
India face South Africa at The Oval on Sunday, and Sri Lanka take on Pakistan in Cardiff the following day. Having posted more than 300 for the second straight game, India were firm favourites at the halfway point against an inexperienced Sri Lanka batting line-up who subsided to a 96-run defeat by South Africa in their opening game.
Opener Niroshan Dickwella did little to dispel that notion as his jittery innings was quickly ended for seven, top-edging Bhuvneshwar Kumar to Ravindra Jadeja to leave Sri Lanka on 11-1.
Having consolidated to reach 44-1 off 10 overs, Gunathilaka counter-attacked, slugging Hardik Pandya for six to bring up a 47-ball fifty before Mendis followed suit, targeting Jadeja to also bring up his half-century by clearing the ropes.
The chase threatened to stutter when Gunathilaka failed to make his ground attempting an ill-advised second run, before Kumar reacted superbly off his own bowling to throw down the stumps with a hesitant Mendis stranded.
Kusal Perera ensured Sri Lanka stayed up with the required run rate, bravely labouring on after pulling his hamstring before he was finally forced from the field at the end of the 43rd over, with 51 needed off 42 balls.
Captain Mathews, playing his first ODI since August 2016 following a recent calf strain, calmly took up the charge though and Gunaratne’s entertaining late cameo ensured Sri Lanka eased to an upset victory that perhaps reinvigorated the tournament after several rain-affected matches. (BBC Sport)