Doing little things right helped us: Mathews
SL captain also credits centurion Sangakkara for victory in close encounter
Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara carved out a victory for his team after India set them a 265-run target. It was a close contest as India did their best to defend the modest score. After clinching the two-wicket win with four balls to spare, SL captain Angelo Mathews said, "We have been winning those close games. Once again, it was a nervous game but we do those little things right. We have got to play better cricket to win against stronger teams. Today, it could have been a bit easier than what it was. The middle order collapsed and made it hard for the lower order to finish."
Sangakkara played a crucial role in salvaging the game for Sri Lanka. His timely century helped his team stay in the game and counter India's young attack. Speaking about the stylish left-hander's 18th ODI ton, Mathews said, "He is a true champion. He has done it so many times for us in the past. It's a treat to watch him bat. It's one of the best innings that I've seen in the recent past."
Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan skipper also feels that dew is a factor while playing in Bangladesh. Discussing the inclusion of off-spinner Ajantha Mendis, he explained, "We were geared up for both. We wanted to chase anyway because of the dew factor. We felt that the wicket was very slow and so thought of Mendis instead of Suranga Lakmal."
Speaking about his decision to field first, Mathews said, "India would have bowled first as well. I can't say it was tricky. It (the wicket) turned quite a bit when (Ravindra) Jadeja and (Ravichandran) Ashwin were bowling in the second half, so our batters had to work hard. We had the batting depth to be up for the challenge. We still have two more games to play good cricket. We saw how Afghanistan played against Pakistan. We cannot take them lightly. We still need to play some really good cricket before the final."
When asked if MS Dhoni's absence hurt India, the Sri Lanka captain replied, "We don't have (Tillakaratne) Dilshan and (Nuwan) Kulasekara. Indians did miss Dhoni, but one individual can't make a massive difference. It's about collective effort in a team game."
And when asked whom they would like to face in the final, Mathews said, "It does not really matter as long as we play good cricket. All teams are equally balanced. We just want to take one game at a time."
Stats Highlights: India vs Sri Lanka, Asia Cup
Captain Kohli’s winning streak ends at 8 in his 100th straight ODI
This match was the 144th between India and Sri Lanka. Incidentally, the India-Sri Lanka rivalry has seen more matches than any other contest.
This was the third match for India on February 28. All three have been against Sri Lanka!
Virat Kohli was playing his 100th consecutive ODI. He became the third Indian after Sachin Tendulkar (185) and Mohammad Azharuddin (126) to appear in 100 ODIs without a break.
Shikhar Dhawan (94) was dismissed in the 90s for the second time in his ODI career. He had made 95 against Australia at Jaipur in October last year. Incidentally, it was also Shikhar’s highest score against Sri Lanka.
When Bhuvneshwar Kumar was stumped off a wide, he presented only the second known instance of a batsman getting stumped without facing a legal ball. The only other batsman to suffer this fate is Canada’s Henry Osinde vs Ireland at Benoni in 2009.
Mohammed Shami became only the second Indian No.11 to hit two sixes in an innings, after Venkatesh Prasad, who did so against Pakistan at Toronto in 1996.
Ajantha Mendis claimed his third four-wicket haul against India – his ninth overall.
Mendis’ performance against India in Asia Cup makes an interesting reading. In two games, he has taken 10 wickets at an average of 7.30. In the 2008 edition, Mendis had taken six for 13 in the final.
Mendis has now taken 22 wickets in six Asia Cup games. Only Muttiah Muralitharan (30) and Chaminda Vaas (23) have bagged more wickets for Sri Lanka in Asia Cup than Mendis (Sanath Jayasuriya also has a tally of 22 wickets).
The wicket of Kusal Perera was the 100th for R Ashwin in ODIs. He became the 17th Indian to aggregate 100 wickets in shorter version of the game. Among the Indian spinners, only Harbhajan Singh has taken fewer matches (76) than Ashwin (77) to reach this milestone.
Kumar Sangakkara (103) scored his 18th ODI 100 – his sixth against India.
This was Sangakkara’s 16th ton in matches where he kept wicket too. He now shares the record of most 100s as a ‘keeper with Australia’s Adam Gilchrist.
Sangakkara reached his century off just 83 balls – his fastest in ODIs. Interestingly, his previous fastest had also come against India – off 84 balls at Hobart in 2012.
This two-wicket win is Sri Lanka’s narrowest against India in terms of a wicket margin. Sri Lanka had beaten India by three wickets on three occasions in the past.
This defeat brought an end to Virat Kohli’s streak of eight consecutive wins as captain. He thus missed the chance to equal the Indian record of most consecutive wins (9) by a captain, shared by Rahul Dravid and MS Dhoni.