Dambulla: Thisara Perera bagged a maiden five-wicket haul to help Sri Lanka storm into the triangular one-day series final with a crushing eight-wicket win over India on Sunday.
The 21-year-old seamer, playing his first match of the tournament, finished with 5-28 off 7.4 tight overs as India were shot out for 103 in 33.4 overs — their third-lowest total against Sri Lanka in one-day internationals.
The total was not enough to put pressure on Sri Lanka, who completed the win in just 15.1 overs in the day-night match in Dambulla. The hosts finished their league engagements with 11 points from four matches, while New Zealand have seven points and India five after three games.
The winners of the last league match between India and New Zealand on Wednesday will qualify for the final.
Sri Lanka put in a solid all-round performance in the must-win match as their batsmen backed their fast bowlers, with Tillakaratne Dilshan (35) and Mahela Jayawardene (33) adding 79 for the opening wicket in 9.2 overs.
Skipper Kumar Sangakkara (13 not out) finished the match when he drove paceman Ishant Sharma through the covers for a four. Upul Tharanga remained unbeaten with 12. Yuvraj Singh earlier top-scored with a fighting 38 in a disappointing Indian batting performance after the tourists elected to bat.
Opener Virender Sehwag (12), Rohit Sharma (11) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (10) were the others to reach double-figures. Yuvraj was unlucky to be given out leg-before off paceman Lasith Malinga (2-21) as TV replays suggested the ball would have missed the stumps. He was the ninth man out after hitting one six and five fours in his 64-ball knock.
Sri Lanka jolted India when paceman Nuwan Kulasekara (2-31) trapped Sehwag leg-before and had Dinesh Karthik (nine) caught behind in a lively opening spell. Perera, who played his last one-dayer in Zimbabwe in June, then wrecked the middle order when he claimed four wickets in five overs to dash India’s hopes of posting a challenging total.
He was once on a hat-trick when he had Ravindra Jadeja caught by Chamara Silva at gully and Praveen Kumar caught by Tharanga at mid-off with his next delivery. Perera ended the innings in the 34th over when he bowled Ishant Sharma. The Sri Lankan pacemen were well supported by wicket-keeper Sangakkara, who took four catches.