LONDON:(APS)June 9, 2017-Sri Lanka staged a superb run chase to stun India and keep alive their Champions Trophy challenge as Kusal Mendis inspired a famous seven-wicket victory over the holders on Thursday.
Needing 322 to avoid a second successive Group B defeat, Sri Lanka powered to a memorable triumph at The Oval 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 June 12.
After losing by 99 runs against South Africa in their opener, that would be a remarkable turnaround 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 70-1, but the young all-rounder dropped a chance off his own bowling.