Sri Lanka defeated India by three runs in the final of the emerging teams Asia Cup in Colombo, in a nail-biting encounter that was decided on the last ball of the match.
Chasing a total of 271, India only managed 267/9 in their designated 50 overs after being down to 83/5 at one stage. The innings started with purpose, as Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ankush Bains set about chasing the tricky total. Bains looked in good knick, hitting the Sri Lankan opening bowlers for two fours before departing for nine with the score at 19.
Delhi batsman Himmat Singh arrived at the number three spot but got out cheaply after getting his eye in, for a score of 18. Gaikwad followed Himmat to the pavilion soon after, caught by Wanidu Hasaranga off the bowling of Lasith Ambuldeniya. At 61/3, India needed Nitish Rana to block one end out, but he lost two more partners in Deepak Hooda and Prabhimran Singh to leave the team reeling at 83/5.
It was at this juncture when captain Jayant Yadav came to the crease and brought a sense of calm to proceedings. As the Sri Lankan bowlers aimed to stifle the flow of runs, Yadav weathered the storm and was not rash with his shots, letting Rana do a bulk of the run-scoring at the other end.
Up until Rana himself got out to the bowling of Gunaratne, caught by Kaminu Mendis. At 127 for 6 with 20 overs to go, it looked like curtains for the Indian team. But number eight batsman Shams Mulani and Yadav stitched together a partnership of 107 runs, which included five boundaries by either batsman.
With 37 runs required to win in just over four overs, it looked like the set pair of Yadav and Mulani would be the ones to take India over the line in what would have been a spirited comeback, but Yadav was dismissed for 71 by Gunaratne, caught by Shammu Ashan, and India suffered yet another dent in the chase.
It was anyone’s game from that point on. Number nine batsman Atit Sheth did his best to get India back in the game, even hitting two massive sixes in the last over to bring the team closer to the target, but it was too little too late as Sri Lanka just edged the match by three runs, becoming champions in the process.
Earlier, Sri Lanka got to the total of 270 riding on fifties from Kaminu Mendis and Hasitha Boyagoda, with the other batsmen ably supporting them. For India, Mulani, Mayank Markande, Yadav and Rana all picked up a solitary wicket, while Ankit Rajpoot finished with figures of 10-0-61-2.