The Sri Lankan Cricket Team’s skills and talents are capable of defeating any opposing team, said Captain Angelo Mathews following a magnificent seven-wicket victory over India who were the Champions at the last Champions Trophy cricket tournament.
Batting first, the India made 321 runs within 50 overs conceding six wickets and Sri Lanka chased the difficult target and achieved it with only three wickets down, sending the spectators packing the Oval ground in London to rapture and ecstasy. Sri Lanka achieved the mark with eight balls to spare. In doing so, Dhanushka Gunathilake who was called to replace Chamara Kapugedara for the game contributed 76 while Kusal Mendis made 89. While the second wicket partnership between the duo made 159 runs for the country, Captain Matthews made an unbeaten 52 and Asela Gunaratne’s quickfire 34 out of 21 balls, all contributed to the decimation of the Indian bowlers.
Mathews said, “In reality, the Indian game was very important to us. No one thought that we would emerge victorious in this match. This too had an impact in the easing of pressure. Therefore, we entered this game in a very relaxed manner and obtained the necessary victory.”
However, Indian Captain Viraj Koli stated prior to the match that they would consider the match against Sri Lanka as a practice match.
Mathews explained, “This match was equivalent to the final of a world cup. In the end, there was no noise. Our spectators who were a minority amidst the Indian fans gave immense support.”
While Kusal Mendis was named the man of the match, it has been reported that he had prior to the match met former Sri Lanka Cricket Captain Kumar Sangakkara and obtained some important advice with regard to batting. At times, Mendis scored three back to back boundaries (four runs each) against Indian fast bowler Pandey and amply demonstrated his elegant stroke play. After the victory, Captain Mathews pointed his bat towards his name imprinted on the back of the t-shirt he was wearing. There is a doubt as to whether he did this because Indian Captain Viraj Koli does the same.
As the previous Champions of the Champions Trophy, the Indian team entered this match with powerful batsmen and three powerful fast bowling trumps in the form of Bumra, Yadev and Buwanesh Kumar. Although Bumra who is known as being skilled at bowling the final overs of a match and Yadev who is India’s fastest pacie and has been named as the best bowler at the IPL previously, in the face of the attack by Sri Lankan novice youths, Dhanushka Gunathilake and Kusal Mendis, all three of them had to retreat. Ravindra Jadejar gave away 52 runs in six overs. When Kusal Janith had made 47 runs, he had to head back to the dressing room due to a foot injury. His replacement, Asela Gunaratne began his inning by sweeping a ball bowled by Bumra across midwicket for a six. At that moment, Sangakkara who was giving a commentary via national television, expressed surprise and referred to Asela as the ‘Army man (a player from the Army)’ and had praised the excellent stroke play.
With the Sri Lankan team chasing 322 runs and winning, they have equalled the victory against England in 2006 at Headingly where they chased the same score. This victory also enters the record book as the highest amount of runs chased at the Oval ground.
Although international commentators underestimated the Sri Lankan side initially, they had subsequently expressed surprise at the magnificent victory stating that they had in no way expected such a chase.
With this great victory which has come at a crucial moment, the opportunity for
Sri Lanka to enter the final round has opened up. Thereby, the victors of the match between South Africa and India on June 11 and the Sri Lanka-Pakistan match on June 12 would get the chance of going into the final round. Although the Sri Lankan team was named as a team unsuited for victory prior to the tournament, following the great victory against the Indian team, attention has once again become focused on the
Sri Lankan team.