India thwarts young Wellalage to beat Sri Lanka and reach Asia Cup final

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — India reached the Asia Cup final by thwarting 20-year-old Dunith Wellalage’s all-round brilliance to beat Sri Lanka by 41 runs on Tuesday.

After claiming 5-40 with his left-arm spin to help bowl out India for 213, Wellalage kept Sri Lanka in the game with an unbeaten 42 before he ran out of partners and Sri Lanka got dismissed for 172 in 41.3 overs.

“The pitch got slightly better towards the end so we had to hold our nerve and bowl consistently,” Indian skipper Rohit Sharma said.

The defeat broke Sri Lanka’s 13-match winning streak and it must now beat Pakistan in its last Super 4 game on Thursday to qualify for the Sunday’s final. Pakistan also has two points like Sri Lanka after both beat Bangladesh in the Super 4 stage, but lost to India.

Wellalage and Dhananjaya de Silva put the small chase back on the track on a tricky spinning wicket after the top-order got flattened against India pace and spin and slumped to 99-6.

Wellalage used his feet well against India spinners and also smacked spinner Kuldeep Yadav over mid-wicket for the only six in the Sri Lanka innings before Ravindra Jadeja (2-33) provided India a much needed breakthrough.

With only 52 required off 76 balls, de Silva couldn’t resist and holed out at mid-on before Yadav ran through the tail to finish with 4-33 that left Wellalage stranded on a 46-ball knock.

India was playing for the third straight day after its Super 4 game against Pakistan was stretched into the reserve day because of rain before it thumped its archrival by 228 runs.

Sharma (53) became the second fastest batter to complete 10,000 ODI runs behind teammate Virat Kohli as he played aggressively against fast bowlers in a dominating 80-run opening partnership with Shubman Gill, who scored 19.

But the introduction of Wellalage in the 11th over saw Indian top order struggling to read the left-arm spinner as the ball started to grip on the wicket. Wellalage clean bowled Gill off his first ball that turned enough as Gill tried to defend.

Kohli, who scored his fourth successive ODI hundred at the R. Premadasa Stadium on Monday, fell cheaply to Wellalage and Sharma got beaten with a straight delivery that skidded through the Indian skipper and hit the stumps.

K.L. Rahul (39) and Ishan Kishan (33) shared a half-century stand before Rahul gave a tame return catch to Wellalage. With the wicket started favoring spinners, Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanka brought on his part-time offspinner Charith Assalanka and Wellalage plucked a brilliant two-handed catch over his head at mid-wicket which got Kishan dismissed.

Wellalage rounded his spell when he had Hardik Pandya caught behind off his final delivery as Assalanka got through the tail. Axar Patel (26), who replaced Shardul Thakur in the playing XI, added a valuable 27 for the last wicket with Mohammed Siraj before the left-hander holed out at long off in the final over as Sri Lanka bowled out the opposition for its 14th successive ODI.

“Unfortunately we lost the match today, but we have one more game to make it to the final,” Wellalage said.


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