India beat Sri Lanka to win Asia Cup after 15 years

DAMBULLA (Sri Lanka): India’s pace battery led by Ashish Nehra demolished Sri Lanka to help their team win the Asia Cup with a comfortable 81-run win on Thursday.

Dinesh Karthik top-scored with 66 as India made 268-6 after electing to bat in the day-night final, before the defending champions and hosts were shot out for 187.

India, who last won the region’s premier one-day prize in 1994, denied Sri Lanka a hat-trick of titles following their victories in 2004 and 2008.

Nehra claimed four wickets, including two in one over, as Sri Lanka were reduced to 51-5 by the 16th over before being bundled out in the 45th over.

India never looked back after hard-hitting opener Tillakaratne Dilshan was dismissed off the fifth delivery, holing out to mid-on off seamer Praveen Kumar.

Kumar, who made use of windy conditions to swing the ball, bowled an unchanged opening spell of nine overs in which he conceded just 29 runs.

Fellow seamer Zaheer Khan bowled Upul Tharanga, before Nehra wrecked havoc by having Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews caught behind in the 14th over.

Nehra also removed Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara for 17, but Thilina Kandamby (31) and Chamara Kapugedera (55 not out) delayed the end.

Nehra’s 4-40 was supported by Zaheer’s 2-36 and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja’s 2-29.

Karthik, who replaced the injured Virender Sehwag, hit nine boundaries to lead India’s batting at the Rangiri stadium in Dambulla.

Karthik put on 62 for the second wicket with Virat Kohli (28) and 46 for the third with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (38).

Rohit Sharma propped up with the middle-order with a fluent 41, before Jadeja boosted the score with an unbeaten 25.

Kandamby, who had failed to take a wicket with his leg-spin in 32 previous one-dayers, stunned India’s top order with the dismissals of Karthik and Dhoni.

Sling-arm fast bowler Lasith Malinga finished with 2-57, while Nuwan Kulasekara claimed 1-44.(AFP)

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