Match Report: Sri Lanka pull up an epic heist to stun India at Oval
Sri Lankan batting line up displayed the same set of skills which Indian batting line up has been known for long time to stun Indian team and fans at Oval on Thursday. They might have started tournament as underdogs, but the ease with which they chased the target was nothing short of a confident champion team and it mirrored their batting dominance of late 90s and early 2000s.
Sri Lanka won the toss and invited India to bat first. India fielded an unchanged XI and started with same strategy which they have been employing last few years in ODIs successfully. Pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan started slowly confidently to reach 138 in 25th over before Rohit Sharma was caught at long leg by Parera on the score of 78. Match was going according to their plans - putting up a solid start and going berserk at the end and they didn't fail in executing it despite losing Kohli for 0 and Yuvraj by 34th over.
Shikhar Dhawan proved yet again that he is a valuable asset when it comes to big tournaments. He scored his 5th century in ICC tournaments - 3 in Champions Trophy and 2 in World Cups and provided Indian team much needed acceleration in middle overs.
MS Dhoni continued his decade long form again against Sri Lankans and hit some powerful shots to reach his fifty in quick time. Some of his shots were captured by ICF admin @Rajiv from the stands and can be seen in videos below.
Sri Lanka had a nervy start with Dickwella being sent back early by Bhuvneswar Kumar. However Kusal Mendis and Gunathilaka displayed a wide array of strokes in their 159 runs partnership which set the tone of the chase. They not only managed to hit boundaries consistently, but were extremely good in turning strikes overs during middle overs which was crucial in ensuring that pressure was always on Indian bowlers.
Sri Lankan team recieved some jitters with two quick run outs in span of 5 overs, however Mathews and Parera ensured that they were always on track before Parera pulled hamstring wih 50 runs left to chase. Gunaratne provided necessary big hits for them to cruise to the total with 8 balls to spare.
This win will provide much needed boost to young line up of Sri Lanka which has shown their brilliance and ability to chase few months back against Australia. With this win, all 4 teams are tied with 2 points in Group B with India at the top on the basis of run rate.
India has lot to ponder in their bowling department. What would worry them is not their inability to defend score of 320, rather the fact that their bowlers managed to pick only 1 wicket during Sri Lankan inning. They were rendered ineffective completely during middle overs leaving desperate Kohli to try Jadhav and himself as bowling options. They would be looking for more wicket taking options in their next match which is virtual quarter final. This could pave way for Shami and Ashwin in the team as Jadeja and Yadav struggled to create an impact in this match. Bumrah's form is another worry for team India and they would look to bounce back from this defeat. Batting would most likely remain same as indicated by Kohli's statement where he felt that India had enough runs on the board.
Sri Lanka would like to repeat their superb batting performance against Pakistan which is another virtual quarter final for group B. Champions trophy is at interesting junction and should increase interest among fans after rain dampening multiple matches.