Plucky Sri Lanka leave India on the brink of elimination

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Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who made an unbeaten 17 to steer Sri Lanka through to a thrilling last-over win against India, said that they ‘wanted to prove a point’ and ‘bring smiles to faces’ of Sri Lankans struggling through ‘crisis’ at home.

“After the statements we have made [by beating India], we are not underdogs anymore. We have proved that. We were the underdogs from the time we came to the UAE. We all know how good Pakistan and India are on their day. All we wanted was to prove a point to the world, especially to our nation. With all the crisis, this is the only thing we could do to bring a smile to their faces.”

Rajapaksa also spoke about how toss plays a crucial role in the matches in Dubai. “UAE has a record of chasing and winning in the night games. 95% of teams chasing wins. I won’t say it got easier, but the start gave us momentum. We kept on with the run rate that’s why it became easier.”

Rajapaksa said,  Sri Lanka are confident that they can go on to win the Asia Cup. “We want to win the title. We are pretty confident; we are backing our team. If a couple of players come to form, we have a good chance of clinching the title.”

He also spoke about the ‘embarrassment’ of being shot out for 105 against Afghanistan and the players were hungry to bounce back.
“It was embarrassing. We are not a team to be all out for 105. We wanted to prove a point and I think we have done. We have made a statement to ourselves and to the world.

“This is a young team. Playing together for the last two years has improved our confidence. The belief in the team is different from what it was 2 years back.”

Sri Lanka Cricket had been struggling for a while in the recent past and the fans were fretting about the lost glory days, but this team has given a glimpse of their fighting spirit and collectivism.

Rajapaksa says the team wants to recapture the best days of the past.

“A couple of decades back we had a brand and we want to rebuild that brand now,” Rajapaksa said.

Dasun, Bhanuka guide SL to six wicket win

Dasun Shanaka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa held their nerve to guide Sri Lanka to a six-wicket win against India in the Asia Cup ‘Super 4’ game in Dubai.

Sri Lanka chased down a target of 174 with one ball to spare.

Kusal Mendis top-scored with 57, while opening partner Pathum Nissanka and Dasun Shanaka contributed 52 and 33* respectively.

Yuzvendra Chahal took 3/34, while Ravichandran Ashwin got one.

Nissanka and Mendis hit fifties before Chahal’s triple strike helped India make a comeback. But the Rajapaksa-Shanaka duo took Sri Lanka home with a delivery to spare. They put on a match-winning fifth-wicket partnership of 64 runs.

Earlier Rohit Sharma top-scored with 72 off 41 balls, while Suryakumar Yadav contributed 34 as India posted 173 for eight batting first. Dilshan Madushanka (3/24), Chamika Karunaratne (2/27) and Dasun Shanaka (2/26) were the main wicket takers, as India kept losing wickets at regular intervals despite Rohit’s attacking innings. Rohit’s dismissal triggered a slide as India added 63 runs after being 110 for three in the 13th over, when the skipper got out.

 India ended their innings at 173/8, with Ashwin (15*) and Arshdeep (1*) in the middle.

Brief scores:

India: 173/8 (20) (Rohit Sharma 72, Suryakumar Yadav 34; Dilshan Madushanka 3-24, Chamika Karunaratne 2-27)

Sri Lanka: 174/4 (19.5) (Kusal Mendis 57, Pathum Nissanka 52; Yuzvendra Chahal 3-34)