India chases down Sri Lanka to lead Twenty20 tri-series

Sri Lankas' Kusal Mendis celebrates scoring a half century against India during their Twenty20 cricket match in Nidahas triangular series in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, March 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
India's Dinesh Karthik plays a shot as Sri Lanka's Kusal Perera watches during their Twenty20 cricket match in Nidahas triangular series in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, March 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — India led the Twenty20 tri-series after beating host Sri Lanka by six wickets with nine deliveries to spare in their rain-affected match on Monday.

After putting Sri Lanka into bat, India medium-pacer Shardul Thakur took a career-best 4-27 to restrict Sri Lanka to 152-9.

In the chase in a match reduced to 19 overs per side by rain, India was led home by an unbroken 68-run stand for the fifth wicket between Manish Pandey (42) and Dinesh Karthik (39).

India has one more win than Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and can clinch a place in the final on Sunday when it plays Bangladesh on Wednesday.

The experienced Karthik joined Pandey at 85-4. Pandey hit three fours and one six in his 31-ball knock, while Karthik required 25 deliveries for his 39 with five fours.

India needed 13 runs off the last two overs and Karthik hit consecutive boundaries in the penultimate over bowled by Nuwan Pradeep before bringing up the victory with a single to covers.

Sri Lanka offspinner Akila Dananjaya dismissed India openers Rohit Sharma (11) and Shikhar Dhawan (8) inside four overs, but the target of 153 wasn't going to test the strong India batting unit.

Sri Lanka's own effort after being sent in to bat was below par. The hosts made an electric start to be 53-2 after six overs of power play and were well poised to put up a commanding total as they reached 94-2 at the end of 10 overs.

The mainstay of the Sri Lanka innings was the 62-run stand between former captain Upul Tharanga and Kusal Mendis. Tharanga scored 22 off 24 deliveries while Mendis posted back-to-back half-centuries hitting 55 off 38 deliveries with three fours and three sixes.

Mendis scored 57 on Saturday against Bangladesh.

The partnership ended when Tharanga was bowled by medium-pacer Vijay Shankar, and Thakur hastened the collapse with three more wickets to be named man of the match.

Sri Lanka was without captain Dinesh Chandimal, who was suspended for two games due to a slow over rate on Saturday against Bangladesh. Thisara Perera led the side in his absence.

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