A superb 84-ball century from Kumar Sangakkara helped Sri Lanka to a narrow two-wicket Asia Cup victory over India at Fatullah.
A superb 84-ball century from Kumar Sangakkara helped Sri Lanka to a narrow two-wicket victory over India in Friday's Asia Cup match at Fatullah.
Sri Lanka's spinners did well to restrict the opposition in the first innings, with Ajantha Mendis picking up four wickets and Sachithra Senanayake three as India were restricted to 265/8.
Shikhar Dhawan and captain Virat Kohli were the star performers for India, with Dhawan scoring 94 off 114 balls and Kohli adding a valuable 48 off 51 balls.
Most of the other Indian batsmen provided a handful of runs each to keep the scoreboard ticking over, even if it wasn't coming at the kind of pace India would have been hoping for.
Following Dhawan's dismissal in the 40th over with the score at 200/5, Sri Lanka did well to concede only 65 runs in the last 10 overs, with their spinners picking up wickets throughout to stave off a large total.
Sri Lanka's openers Kusal Perera and Lahiru Thirimanne started brightly in response, putting on an 80-run first-wicket partnership before the latter was dismissed for 38 off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin.
Sangakkara promptly joined Perera, and the duo would put on another 54 runs for the second wicket before Perera also departed for a well-played 64, with Ashwin again doing the damage.
From that point on, with the score at 134/2 in the 27th over, it was all Sangakkara, who brilliantly guided Sri Lanka to the brink of victory with some superb shot selection and execution, even as wickets continued to tumble around him and with no other batsman making a significant contribution.
The star wicketkeeper's century finally came in the 49th over, and though he would be dismissed the very next ball, he had done enough to get Sri Lanka to 258/8 – just seven runs short of the required total with nine balls remaining.
India sensed their chance at hand, but Mendis managed to score a streaky four off an outside edge in the final ball of the 49th over to leave Sri Lanka needing just 1 run off the last six balls.
Unbelievably, Perera offered Dhawan a straightforward chance at mid-off on the first ball of the final over as he went for a big shot that was totally unnecessary, but Dhawan dropped the sitter and Perera made no mistake with the next ball, securing the run required and handing Sri Lanka a victory that puts them on the brink of a place in the Asia Cup finals.
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