Defending champions India came dangerously close to elimination after a six-wicket loss to Sri Lanka in their Asian Cup super four leg match at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday. The result left the Men in Blue at the mercy of other teams for a chance of advancing to the final. It also meant India skipper Rohit Sharma’s scintillating 41-ball 72 was left in vain as the islanders finished a 174 chase with one ball to spare. Needing 21 balls from 12, Sri Lanka scored 14 on the penultimate knocked down by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, almost sealing it in their favour.
India will be kicked out of the tournament if Pakistan beat Afghanistan on Wednesday.
Continuing what looked like normal scoring at the innings break, the Sri Lankans got off to a flying start with flyhalf Kusal Mendis (57 from 37 balls) and Pathum Nissanka (52 from 37 balls) scoring 91 runs at a brisk pace.
The fifty were in sixth position, with both batters regularly finding gaps and boundaries with consummate ease, putting enormous pressure on the Indian bowling attack which seemed distraught at the positive approach taken by the two Lankan batters.
However, leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal had other ideas as he struck twice in the 12th to stop Sri Lanka’s march.
Ravichandran Ashwin fired Danushka Gunathilaka (1) to leave Sri Lanka in a tight spot at 110 for three in the 14th.
In the first ball of the next, Sri Lanka suffered a blow to the body as Chahal got the big wicket from Mendis, who was trapped lbw in front of the wicket.
But Sri Lankan skipper Dasun Shanaka et (33 not knocked out) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa (25 not knocked out) stayed until the end to complete their side’s task with a winning partnership of 64 runs at the fifth wicket.
Earlier, Rohit set an example with his beau.
Rohit stormed off after India lost two wickets early, hitting five fours and four sixes in his entertaining shot. He was well supported by Suryakumar Yadav (34 from 29 balls) during a 97-run stand for the third wicket.
But Rohit’s dismissal sparked a slide as India added 63 points after going 110 for three in the 13th when the skipper came off.
Sri Lanka got off to a dream start as they knocked out fly-half KL Rahul (6) and Virat Kohli (0) in quick succession, leaving defending champions India struggling at 13 for two in the third.
Just after getting a boundary with an extra top drive, Rahul was trapped in front of the wicket by off-spinner Maheesh Theekshana’s arm ball in the second half of the match.
Failing to connect with the ball after coming down from the wicket, Rahul opted for a review but it didn’t go his way as replays showed the ball continuing to touch the leg stump .
Kohli walked in, only for the Indian star to return to the locker room after facing four deliveries for his lousy neck and crop and being rolled by left-arm fast bowler Dilshan Madushanka at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Trying to hit a long ball down the midwicket, Kohli missed and his off and middle stumps were messed up.
Rohit, however, remained positive and kept the scoreboard at a healthy pace, clarifying his intention when he played Chamika Karunaratne on wide midfield for a boundary.
Fast-medium pitcher Asitha Fernando was brought into the offense, and Rohit smashed him for a straight six-and-a-four as 14 runs came in on fifth.
The India captain then hit Theekshana for a square leg four, helping India score 44 runs in six overs on the power play.
Leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga and Karunaratne then threw a few tight overs, managing to contain the duo of Rohit and Suryakumar Yadav.
Meanwhile, Rohit was dropped to extra coverage when he hit on 40, wide of Hasaranga’s bowling alley.
Suryakumar raised his first boundary after playing 12 balls, which was also India’s first after a quiet spell.
Over the next, Rohit took advantage of his reprieve and whipped Asitha Fernando to a deep square leg for a six, then hit his half with a four.
Suryakumar also got in on the act, punching Madushanka to the max. It was Rohit’s turn again to get a six as the India captain danced along the wicket to knock Hasaranga down for long. He followed it up with a four, then another six.
However, Karunaratne fired Rohit in the next one with a slower one.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
Topics discussed in this article