Dambulla:Dinesh Karthik (66) struck a fighting half-century as India scored a competitive 268 for six in the Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka here on Thursday.
Except for opener Gautam Gambhir, each of the top order batsmen made their contributions after India opted to bat on a true wicket at the Rangiri International Stadium.
Karthik looked like he has sealed himself a place in the squad for the tri-series against Sri Lanka and New Zealand with a pugnacious 84-ball 66, while being involved in three crucial partnerships -- 38 for first with Gambhir (15), 52 for the second with Virat Kohli (28), and 46 for third with his skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (38).
In contrast to their performance in the last league game when they trounced India by seven wickets, defending champions Sri Lanka were evidently off-colour on Thursday.
The home side bowling lacked discipline with hat-trick man of the last game, Farveez Maharoof bleeding boundaries at the start of the innings.
Their fielding was also ordinary with Maharoof conceding two boundaries, once letting the ball through his legs at covers when there should have been no run at all.
India lost Gambhir early, in the seventh over. Playing in his 100 ODI, the left-hander enjoyed two reprieves of successive balls off Nuwan Kulasekara, but failed to cash in on Sri Lanka's largesse.
Gambhir was dropped by Thilina Kandamby at first slip and by Kumar Sangakkara who chose to stand close to the wickets to keep the adventurous Indian opener within his crease.
While attempting an unnecessary third run after turning Kulasekara off his pads to square leg, Gambhir found himself desperately short of his crease when Kulasekara, collecting the return from Upul Chandana, broke the stumps at the non-striker's end.
India were though in fine fettle when Karthik and Virat Kohli were at the crease, and at 100 for one in 18 overs, a total of around 290 looked possible.
But a distant jab at a Lasith Malinga slinger by an impetuous Kohli momentarily stopped India in their tracks. However, Karthik and Dhoni helped India regain the momentum, raising 46 runs for the fourth wicket.
Barely moments after Karthik had mishit a Thilina Kandamby full toss to Mahela Jayawardene at midwicket, Dhoni sliced the burly leg-spinner to Kulasekara at backward point to leave his side at 167 for four.
Dhoni made 38, following his scores of 38 not out (against Bangladesh), 56 (Pakistan) and 41 ( Sri Lanka).
India recovered from the Kandamby strikes through the gutsy performance of Rohit Sharma (41) and Raina (29), who raised 50 runs for the fifth wicket in 52 balls.
With 217 runs on the board in 41 overs and six wickets in hand, a big score looked possible for India.
But Raina's demise to a Malinga yorker, denied them crucial runs in the death overs, though Rohit and Ravindra Jadeja (25 not out) strove to break loose from the Lankan shackles.
For Sri Lanka, Kandamby and Malinga took two wickets apiece by conceding 37 and 57 runs respectively while Kulasekara got one wicket.