Sri Lanka win thriller to leave India on the brink of Asia Cup elimination

Sri Lanka win thriller to leave India on the brink of Asia Cup elimination

India’s hopes of defending their Asia Cup title are left hanging by a thread after the Men in Blue suffered another last-over defeat against Sri Lanka in the Super 4 stage. Rohit Sharma took India to a total of 172 for eight with a magnificent half-century, but Sri Lanka chased down the target with one ball to spare to all but seal their spot in Sunday’s final.

17 of the last 19 games have been won by the team batting second in Dubai, and India got off to another poor start after being put into bat by Dasun Shanaka. KL Rahul fell for six in the second over after being hit on the boot by Maheesh Theekshana, while left-arm pacer Dilshan Madushanka burst through the defences of Virat Kohli, who played an uncharacteristic wild slog across the line to depart without troubling the scorers.

India recovered after that early double blow through Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav. The Mumbai pair added a 97-run stand with the opener doing most of the heavy lifting. The skipper took the Men in Blue to 44 for two at the end of the powerplay with a four and six against Asita Fernando. Sharma hit the pacer for another couple of boundaries to reach a 32-ball half-century and kicked on through the middle overs, dismantling Wanindu Hasaranga for two sixes and a four in the 12th over.

Sharma departed two balls later when he dragged a slower ball to deep point for 72, and the Indian innings fell apart following the skipper’s dismissal. Suryakumar Yadav managed only two boundaries in his scratchy 29-ball 34, while neither Hardik Pandya nor Rishabh Pant could find the acceleration needed at the death, with both batters departing on 17. An excellent penultimate over from Dilshan Madushanka left India reeling at 161 for seven, and the Men in Blue only managed to limp towards a respectable score of 173 thanks to an Ashwin six in the final over.

In response, the Sri Lankan openers added 57 runs in the powerplay to set up the run chase. Arshdeep Singh’s slower balls departed for 18 runs in the fifth over, while both openers cleared the ropes against Chahal and Ashwin to put the Islanders on the right track. Sri Lanka were cruising at 97-0 in 11 overs, but India fought back with four quick wickets from the spinners. Chahal pocketed both openers after their half-centuries along with Asalanka for a duck, while the left-hander Pathum Nissanka picked out long-off against Ashwin.

The flurry of wickets left Sri Lanka needing 64 runs off 35 balls, but Bhanuka Rajapaksa brought down the run rate with a pair of sixes against Ashwin and Chahal, while Dasun Shanaka tore into the Indian pacers. The skipper hit four fours and a six between overs 17 to 19 to leave just seven runs needed off the final six deliveries.

Arshdeep Singh bowled an incredible final over, but Sri Lanka edged over the line with two byes to seal a momentous six-wicket win, leaving India on the brink of elimination.