india: All but over: India suffer second straight defeat as they lose to Sri Lanka by 6 wickets, final chances slim

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India’s fate in the Asia Cup hangs by the thinnest of threads. They have only themselves to blame for this and now their hopes of making it to the final rest in the hands of other teams and the results of other matches.

Rohit Sharma was the only bright light in India’s six-wicket loss to Sri Lanka. Put in to bat, India suffered two early blows, KL Rahul shimmied down the pitch but only managed to walk into a Maheesh Theekshana delivery that drifted in beautifully with the arm.

Virat Kohli, coming into the match on the back of two half-centuries in the tournament, was set up perfectly by Dilshan Madushanka, the left-arm quick extracting late inswing with a perfectly pitched delivery to detonate the stumps. Kohli had looked to pick the ball up and hit it through midwicket but did not come close to making contact.

From here it was the Rohit show. India’s captain was majestic off the back foot, playing a pull deep into the stands and then attacking the off side when the bowler compensated, a rasping cut flying to the point fence.

But, when Rohit ran out of luck, having made a high-impact 72 off only 41 balls, so poor was the contribution at the other end that India’s score was only 110.

Suryakumar Yadav, who had been forced to play second fiddle, curbed his natural instincts, and had just fed Rohit the strike, which worked perfectly for India. But, on 34, he could not help himself, tempted into a ramp shot by Dasun Shanaka. The lack of pace on the ball meant the batsman ended up guiding it to the fielder at short third man.

Hardik Pandya played one crisp shot back over the bowler’s head, but when he tried to shovel a ball over midwicket, he did not connect cleanly and holed out to the deep.

There was no need to worry yet as India had plenty of depth, but Rishab Pant could only match Pandya’s 17, pulling a short ball straight to the fielder on the fence at midwicket.

It was time to reach for the panic button when Deepak Hooda, at No. 7, walked across his stumps and tried to help the ball down to fine leg. He was nowhere near the ball and the stumps were splayed.

When India ended their innings on 173 for 8, there was a distinct sense of deja vu. This was a decent score, on a good pitch, but one that would likely prove below par. And it turned out to be, if only just.

Sri Lanka got off to a ripper of a start, Pathum Nissanka (52) and Kusal Mendis (57) attacking the bowlers. In the Powerplay, Sri Lanka raced to 57 without loss. While this was enough to deflate India on the field, the fact that the bowling unit, as a group, did not create a single realistic chance in that period, would’ve hurt even more.

When the first drinks break was taken, it felt like the match as a contest was over, Sri Lanka reaching 89/0. But, as if a switch had been thrown, the momentum shifted. Yuzvendra Chahal’s three-wicket burst and a scalp for R Ashwin, reduced Sri Lanka to 110/4. But try as they might, India could not trigger a complete collapse. Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Shanaka ensured that their team crossed the line, with one ball to spare.

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