Sri Lanka pip India in most successful run chase –in Champions Trophy history

Sri Lanka cricket team threw the ICC Champions Trophy semifinal race in Group B wide open with a shock seven-wicket win over Indian cricket team —
the defending champions at The Oval. Following the loss, India captain Virat Kohli said his side is not invincible.

India racked up a total of 321/6 but Sri Lanka knocked off the runs with eight balls left to leave Group B wide open. The islanders chased down the target to upset India by seven wickets. This was the most successful run chase in ICC Champions Trophy history. Kusal Mendis was named man-of-the-match for his 89 off 93 balls.

All four nations sit on two points apiece now (India – 2pts; South Africa – 2pts; Sri Lanka – 2pts; and Pakistan – 2pts), with one match to go.

India will face South Africa in their remaining group game, while Sri Lanka will take on Pakistan.

Needing 322 to avoid a second successive Group ‘B’ defeat, Sri Lanka powered to a memorable triumph thanks to key contributions from Mendis (89), Danushka Gunathilaka (76) and captain Angelo Mathews (52).

Mathews admitted earlier this week that many experts expected his underdogs to be thrashed by in-form India.

But Sri Lanka defied the odds to win with eight balls to spare and they can qualify for the semi-finals if they beat Pakistan in their final group match in Cardiff on Monday.

After losing by 99 runs against South Africa in their opener, that would be a remarkable turn around for a young Sri Lanka team in the midst of a major rebuilding project.

India’s failure to secure a second consecutive win after thumping arch rivals Pakistan was a major surprise and they must beat South Africa at The Oval on Sunday to avoid a humiliating exit.

Shikhar Dhawan’s 125 had put India in a strong position as the holders piled up 321 for six.

The 31-year-old hit 15 fours and one six in his 128-ball innings, receiving strong support from Rohit Sharma (78) and MS Dhoni (63), but it wasn’t enough.

India had only themselves to blame after squandering the momentum given to them by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who dismissed Niroshan Dickwella for seven when the opener’s edge was caught by Ravindra Jadeja.

Needing what would be a record run chase in ODIs staged at The Oval, Gunathilaka set about giving Sri Lanka hope.

He hit Umesh Yadav for a sky-scraping six and, together with the aggressive Mendis, imposed himself well enough to build a quick-fire 50 partnership.

Hardik Pandya had a chance to remove Mendis with the score on 70 for one, but the young all-rounder dropped a chance off his own bowling.

If complacency was an issue for India’s wayward bowlers, Gunathilaka made them pay, reaching his half-century in emphatic style with another six.

By the time Sri Lanka reached 108 for one in the 20th over, the holders were beginning to worry.

Jadeja, the world’s top ranked ODI bowler, was slapped away for four by Mendis, who sailed onto fifty with his first six.

An audacious reverse sweep for four by Gunathilaka off Jadeja showed Sri Lanka’s rising confidence. Then a diving Rohit Sharma dropped Gunathilaka.

When Mendis hit three successive boundaries, their partnership was up to 159 and India were in danger of letting the match slip from their grasp.

But Gunathilaka’s career-best ODI innings came to an end when he was run out by Umesh Yadav after rashly trying to turn a single into two.

Incredibly, Sri Lanka didn’t learn from that mistake and Mendis perished in the same fashion, easily run out by Kumar’s direct hit while attempting to steal a single.

Crucially, Mathews, playing his first ODI since August after a calf injury, came in to steady the ship with a nerveless innings.

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