Spirited Performance from Sri Lanka evens Group B
Angelo Mathews returned to the side after an injury to captain the Sri Lankan side. He won the toss on an overcast morning at the The Oval & choose to bowl first. Indian captain, Virat Kohli decided to play with the winning combination looking to seal the semi-final berth.
Rohit Sharma began the proceedings with a boundary off Malinga through point. Indian openers scored 3 boundaries in the first 5 overs & did not take too many risks, the scoreboard read 17/0. The bowlers were not able to keep the pressure on as India reached the 50-run mark in the 11th over as the pair of Dhawan & Rohit continued their excellent partnership record in Champions Trophy. Their last 7 scores in #CT history: 127, 101, 58, 77, 19, 136 and 138.
The openers safely negotiated the new ball and started scoring at 5-6 RPO finding the boundaries at a regular interval. Rohit Sharma scored his 2nd fifty of the tournament with a six as they brought their 100-run partnership & became the first Indian pair to share 3 consecutive 100+ partnerships.
Rohit found the boundaries to get going whereas Dhawan rotated the strike & played the anchor role to bring up his 2nd fifty in CT 2017. Malinga got the breakthrough as a pull shot from Rohit went straight to T. Perera and departed for 78. Virat Kohli walked in at no.3 but failed to trouble the scorers & was dismissed for zero looking to guide the ball to third man but the ball ended up in Dickwella’s gloves. At the end of 26 overs, India were 139/2.
Dhawan started to free his arms & struck five boundaries in the next three overs giving Yuvraj time to settle in after the fall of two quick wickets. Gunathilaka & Thisara Perera bowled smartly to reduce the scoring-rate, India were 178/2 after 33 overs. Yuvi got dismissed for 7 as he chopped a delivery from Gunaratne who did the trick in his first over. MS Dhoni walked in to give company to Dhawan who was looking confident in the middle.
The pair took time to build their partnership scoring at 5-6 RPO until the 40th over. Dhawan got to his century with a four, it was his 5th hundred in ICC ODI tournaments in 15 outings. 43 runs came in the next 4 overs with Dhawan & Dhoni targeting the bowlers in scoring the quick runs, India were 261/3 after 44 overs. Dhawan’s superb innings ended on 125 with a slower one from Malinga getting the better of him. Hardik Pandya came in next & tried to replicate the big-hitting shots but managed one six and was dismissed for 9 runs.
Kedar Jadhav and Dhoni were the new pair to play the death overs & made complete use of it. They were scoring at 8-9 RPO with Dhoni bringing up his 62nd ODI fifty & finding the boundaries as India crossed the 300-run mark for the 2nd time running. Jadhav scored a quick-fire 25 to end the innings with a four as India finished on 321/6.
Niroshan Dickwella & Danushka Gunathilaka walked in to chase the target knowing that anything less than a win would see them knocked out of the tournament. Indian bowlers were eager to make it a tough chase as Bhuvneshwar Kumar did his job to swing the ball & Umesh Yadav using his pace with Sri Lanka getting to 11/0 after the first 4 overs. Kumar got the breakthrough dismissing Dickwella for 7 and giving India a good start.
Kusal Mendis walked in next and along with Gunathilaka, they both ensured that Sri Lanka didn’t lose any more wickets taking singles & hitting a few boundaries. After 10 overs, the scoreboard read 44/1. Both the batsmen continued the good work & brought up their 50-run stand in the 13th over. The Indian bowlers had done a decent job t bowling tight line & lengths to keep the scoring rate to 5 RPO.
Gunathilaka reached his fifty with a six in his first game of the tournament with Mendis also chipping with a couple of boundaries as well. Sri Lanka were 108/1 after 20 overs & had two well-set batsmen at the crease ready to do the keep the challenge on for the chase. Kusal Mendis got to his fifty with a six too & both the players were playing fearlessly to keep the Indian bowlers thinking as they were finding the boundaries easily by picking up the gaps. Virat Kohli kept changing the bowlers but to no avail as they raced to 158/1 after 26 overs.
Part-timer Jadhav came into the attack followed by captain, Kohli who rolled his arms. Gunathilaka was playing exceptionally well & tried to sneak a double but was undone by a bullet throw from Umesh Yadav at backward square leg & smart work by Dhoni to catch him short of his crease despite a dive. Kusal Perera came in to give company to Mendis in the middle.
The pair scored at a run-a-ball until a bad call from Perera saw Mendis run-out trying to take a single as Bhuvi was bang on target at the striker’s end. India were back on top with a couple of quick wickets. Sri Lankan captain, Angelo Mathews & Perera steadied the ship with fine strokes & scoring at 5-6 RPO to keep the momentum on their side. The good job reflected on the scoreboard that read 247/3 after 40 overs.
With 75 runs needed off 60 balls, the onus was on Bumrah, Bhuvi & Umesh to bowl the remaining overs. Sri Lanka scored 24 runs in the next 3 overs but lost Perera to an injury and he was retired hurt on 47. Gunaratne came in with and got off the mark with a six followed by two fours in the next over. Gradually, the game was getting away from India as both batsmen did not panic & saw their team over the line with sensible batting by 7 wickets with 8 balls to spare. India were beaten after 7 wins starting from their last game in 2009 against West Indies.
Kusal Mendis was named Man of the Match for his knock off 89 from 93 balls that set the platform for a big win.