As India went into the game against Sri Lanka, no many gave the islanders much of a chance to pull off a win. The two teams wore a stark contrast. While skipper Virat Kohli was once again faced a problem of plenty, Angelo Mathews was struggling to piece together a team from a squad full of inexperienced players with some key players either injured or suspended.

India’s reputation preceded them. They were firm favourites, while Sri Lanka were the underdogs. On Thursday, all the theories were discarded as Sri Lanka pulled off their highest-ever chase to shock India by seven wickets and stay afloat in the Champions Trophy.

Put into bat, India posted a competitive total of 321/6 with Shikhar Dhawan leading the way with his 10th ODI century. Sri Lanka, though, was up to the challenge with Danushka Gunathilaka (76) and Kusal Mendis (89) leading the charge as India’s bowling attack, comprising of four seamers struggled in conditions that provided little help for the pacers.

Gunathilaka and Mendis added 159 runs for the third wicket after opener Niroshan Dickwella (7) fell early. The partnership put Sri lanka on top.

Skipper Kohli, who chose to retain the same playing XI from India’s opening game against Pakistan, struggled for options as the four-man pace attack struggled to find bite off a flat track.

This was the second game in the tournament that India did not include star spinner R Ashwin in the playing XI. In his absence and the ineffectiveness of the pacers left Team India in a spot.

Bereft of options, a desperate India was forced to rely on their part-time spinners. While Kedar Jadhav bowled from one end, skipper Kohli brought himself on from the other.

While the two could not pick up wickets, it was during this spell that India clawed their way back into the contest with two sharp run-outs to oust Gunathilaka and Mendis.

But with wickets in hand, Sri Lanka were not going to ease off so easily. Skipper Angelo Mathews (52) and Kusal Perera (47) picked up from where their teammates had left off. They did not let the momentum shift towards India, who had their tails up following the two run-outs.

Sadly for India, the surface remained true as their pace-heavy bowling attack struggled to make any inroads. Perera had to retire hurt after suffering, what looked like a hamstring injury. But, even that could not change India’s fortunes. Other than the two run-outs, only Bhuvneshwar Kumar managed to pick up a solitary wicket, with the rest going wicket-less.

Earlier, it was Dhawan who made most of the flat track on offer as he scored a fine 125-run knock off 128 deliveries.

His effort included 15 boundaries and one six. The Delhi batsman once again shared a century run stand with opening partner Rohit Sharma. The duo laid the foundation for India after being asked to bat first.

The duo were on top of their game. Their 138-run stand was their 10th 100-run partnership together. Rohit took the lead between the two early on with some fine attacking shots. With six boundaries and three towering sixes, Rohit looked dangerous and even primed for a century. His thirst for big runs, though, put also brought his downfall. He was caught in the deep on 76 trying to hit Sri Lanka’s star pacer Lasith Malinga. His downfall broke the steady partnership and immediately pushed India onto the backfoot.

Kohli, who came into bat at three departed on a duck, his first in ODIs since 2014. India’s hero against Pakistan - Yuvraj Singh - also fell cheaply on 7 as India lost three wickets in quick succession.

Dhawan, though, batted stoicly at one end. He guided India’s ship through the choppy waters before bringing up his century. He soon found MS Dhoni for company and two restarted India’s oush for a 300-plus score. They shared a partnership of 82 runs for the fourth wicket. Dhoni soon took over as Dhawan departed for 125. Dhoni smashed a well-paced half-century to take India past the 300-run mark with some lusty blows.

In the end, the total did not prove to be enough as India slumped to their first loss of the tournament.

Brief scores

  • India 321/6 (Rohit Sharma 76, Shikhar Dhawan 125, MS Dhoni 63; Lasith Malinga 2/70) lost toSri Lanka 322/3 (Danushka Gunathilaka 76, Kusal Mendis 89, Kusal Perera 47, Angelo Mathews 52) by seven wickets.