LONDON: Angelo Mathews saluted Sri Lanka’s underdogs after they staged a brilliant run chase to stun Champions Trophy holders India by seven wickets on Thursday.
Mathews’ side were written off by many experts in the build-up to the crucial Group B clash at The Oval, but they ignored the doubters to keep alive their bid to qualify for the semi-finals.
Tasked with chasing 322 to win, Sri Lanka knocked off the runs with eight balls to spare thanks to memorable contributions from Kusal Mendis (89), Danushka Gunathilaka (76) and captain Mathews (52).
“It’s one of the top wins, to beat India. The bowlers did brilliantly to restrict India to 321. It was a very chaseable target,” Mathews said.
“Not many people expected us to win and that took a lot of pressure off us.
“I thought the second-wicket partnership (between Gunathilaka and Mendis) was vital. They set us the platform.
“It wasn’t easy for Gunathilaka to walk into the side and bat like how he did.”
It was an emotional return for Mathews, who hadn’t played an ODI since August following a calf injury.
His calm innings steadied the ship just as India were trying to regain the momentum.
“I tried to hit as many balls in the nets as possible, it makes you feel good and that helped me come back from injury,” he said.
Sri Lanka can qualify for the semi-finals if they beat Pakistan in their final group match in Cardiff on June 12, while India must beat South Africa on June 11 to avoid a humiliating exit.
“It’s a must-win game for all of us in the group,” Mathews added.
India captain Virat Kholi admitted Sri Lanka deserved their famous win, but he was disappointed his bowlers didn’t follow the game-plan.
“We felt we had enough on the board. We trusted out bowlers, but Sri Lanka were pretty good. They kept the momentum through the innings, they picked their areas to hit and executed really well,” Kohli said.
“There’s always hindsight. I thought we bowled decently, but when you don’t execute properly, there is always food for thought.
“You have to give credit to the other team. In a tournament like this especially.”