A struggling Sri Lanka team was hit with more worries as the defending Asia Cup champions lost to India, the team to beat in the tournament to be left with an uphill task to make it to the finals.
The scorecard showing a 5 wicket win with 4 balls to spare by no means ensures that it was a close game as apart from twin Nuwan Kulesekara strikes to remove openers Shikar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, the Indians cruised to victory with fine batting displays from Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and the ever consistent Virat Kohli.
Invited to bat first, Sri Lanka made only a modest 138 for 9 with Dinesh Chandimal wasting his fine form to get out cheaply while old work horse Tillakaratne Dilshan managed only 18.
Chamara Kapugedera who came in at number 4, knocked the ball around for his 30 while cameos from Tissara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekera and 22 runs from Milinda Siriwardene took them to a decent total.
Tissara Perera’s blistering 6 ball 17 saw an unfortunate end when the umpire adjudged him out off a Ravi Ashwin delivery even though the big hitting left hander got back in time to beat skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s stumping.
Nuwan Kulesekara got Sri Lanka off to an electrifying start removing both the openers for single figures giving the underperforming Lankans some hope despite the absence of injury hit skipper and pace spearhead Lasith Malinga but Virat Kohli who gets to his very best almost every time he plays against Sri Lanka made sure that the game did not go beyond the control of India.
Kohli also bagged his second man of the match award in a row with his unbeaten 56 to power India to their target with 5 wickets and 4 balls in hand while southpaw Yuvraj Singh also used the game to get back into form hammering his way to a 18 ball 35 which included 3 sixes and 3 boundaries.
With India ensuring their spot in the final, Sri Lanka still have an outside chance to resurrect their title defense, but that would require them to beat Pakistan who possess the most feared pace bowling attack of the tournament while they would also need the Pakistanis to beat host nation Bangladesh.
It does not end there as the above results would leave Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh with 2 wins each meaning India’s opponents in the final will be decided on the net run rate.
If results and numbers go their way, the Islanders can dream of retaining their title which they won during an amazing 2014 which propelled them to the World T20 title as well.
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