THE OVAL: They may be coming off an awful run of form, two of their players might have been ruled out, and their No. 4 may damage his hamstring injury during a crucial innings, but still, if the wind, and the light, and the time of day are just right, Sri Lanka can still summon up a little of their old big-tournament magic. They can rally, they can surge, they can surprise.
That India’s batting had gone more or less perfectly to plan makes the ice-cold pursuit even sweeter for Sri Lanka. They were, after all, chasing a commanding 321 for 6 – on an Oval surface that had turned up a little green on match day.
And it was, perhaps, a new generation of batsmen that set up the highest-succesful chase in Champions Trophy history. Kusal Mendis hit a frill-free 89 that belied his youth, and Danushka Gunathilaka – with fewer than 20 ODIs on his timesheet – provided the innings its early impetus, hitting 76 off 72 balls himself. Kusal Perera then electrified the middle overs, before Angelo Mathews saw the chase home, with help from a spry Asela Gunaratne. Sri Lanka sauntered to their target in the penultimate over, with seven wickets in hand. Mathews hit the winning run, having reached fifty with the previous blow. It was his first ODI since August last year.
This win by Sri Lanka has really opened up Group B. This means the India-South Africa game on Sunday is a virtual knockout, as is the Pakistan-SL game.
Kohli: “We felt we had enough on the board, we trusted out bowlers, but Sri Lanka were pretty good. They kept the momentum through the innings, they picked their areas to hit and executed really well.”
Mathews: “It’s one of the top wins, to beat India. It was a fantastic wicket. The bowlers did brilliantly to restrict India to 321. it’s a very chaseable target. Wasn’t easy for Gunathilaka to walk into the side and bat like how he did. Kusal is a great player, and Kusal Perera also batted really well.”
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