Manish Pandey
Manish Pandey has made crucial contributions lower down the order during the Nidahas Tri-Series. In this picture, Pandey bats during the fourth one-day international cricket match between India and Australia in Sydney, Jan. 23, 2016. CRAIG GOLDING/AFP/Getty Images

India moved to the top of the table in the Nidahas Tri-Series Twenty20 tournament with a six-wicket win over Sri Lanka on Monday, but are still not guaranteed a place in the finals.

The Men in Blue fashioned their second win of the tournament — their first coming against Bangladesh on March 8 — after a composed performance from the bowlers, who restricted the hosts to 152/9 in the truncated 19 overs match at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.

Man of the Match Shardul Thakur led from the front with four wickets and was ably backed up by teenage spinner Washington Sundar, who has impressed with every opportunity. The latter picked up two wickets in his four over spell that yielded just 21 runs.

India had lost their opening encounter of the Tri-Series against Sri Lanka after the bowlers failed to defend the 175 posted by the Indian batsmen, but they made amends as they restricted Lanka to a comfortable total for the batsmen to chase.

The number three ranked T20 team however did not get off to a good start as they lost both the openers — Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan — with just 22 runs on the board before Suresh Raina and KL Rahul steadied the ship before they were dismissed to leave India at 85/4. India did not lose any more wickets as Manish Pandey and Dinesh Karthik steered them home with 10 balls to spare.

“Smart performance, especially from the bowlers. To restrict a batting unit like that, it was a great effort from the bowlers,” stand-in captain Sharma said, as quoted on India Today. “The conditions weren't easy for the bowlers, there was a bit of dew on the ground. Neither easy for the spinners nor the pacers, but they have executed their plans really well. Just continued where we left off against Bangladesh.”

Pandey has been one of the standout performers with the bat during the series having delivered consistent performances lower down the order in all three matches thus far. Karthik, meanwhile, has only been called upon in the latter stages of the innings which has seen him remain not out on all three games thus far.

"We bat really deep, and we haven't had a batting line-up like that in a long time. We have a lot of all-rounders, but the middle-order hasn't had opportunities to bat in the recent past, but as you saw today, Manish and DK batted extremely well. Can't single out a performance, it was a complete team effort," he added.

Sharma, however, is not taking anything for granted despite India being one of the favourites to make the final after their second win. Bangladesh have two more games left to play against Sri Lanka and India and their results will depend on which two teams make the finals.

If Bangladesh beat India in their next encounter and then lose to Sri Lanka, all teams will be on four points, which will then bring run rate into play. Therefore, India’s stand-in captain has called on the team to carry on their momentum and look to win their final group game to ensure a place in the summit clash.

”We aren't laid back at all, because all three teams are still alive in the tournament. They can all stand at four points. So we need to continue the momentum from hereon. The new guys have all taken their opportunities and made good use of it. So we don't need to go and change anything,” Sharma said.