Colombo: Kusal Perera’s quickfire 66 overshadowed Shikhar Dhawan’s valiant effort as Sri Lanka defeated India by five wickets in the T20I tri-series opener at the RP stadium on Tuesday.
A 175-run target set by India ended up being easily chased by the home side as the bowlers were taken to the cleaners by Perera, whose 37-ball knock had six fours and four sixes. Sri Lanka eventually chased down the total with nine balls to spare.
Perera’s onslaught helped the hosts rack up 75 runs in the powerplay which, completely took the game away from India, despite them having got an early breakthrough. It was that 27-run over bowled by Mumbai pacer Shardul Thakur which set the tone for the carnage to follow as both Perera and Sri Lanka never really looked back from there. Fittingly, it was Thakur who conceded a boundary in the 19th over as the hosts registered their highest ever run chase against India.
Once he was dismissed, India found some space to breathe and claw their way back into the contest but this time, it was Thisara Perera, whose 22 runs of just 10 balls sealed the game in favour of the hosts.
The young Washington Sundar was India’s best bowler on the night as the latter not only dismissed Perera, giving his side an opening but also ended up being the most economical of them all, conceding just seven runs per over. Chahal too bowled well, sending back the two experienced batsmen- Upul Tharanga (17) and Dinesh Chandimal (14). But the damage had already been done by then.
Opting to bowl first, Sri Lanka got off to a flying start as Rohit Sharma’s woeful run continued in T20Is. The Mumbai batsman was dismissed for his fifth duck in the format in the very first over of the game, which pushed India on the backfoot. Suresh Raina’s dismissal for just one run too didn’t help India’s cause as they were reduced to 9/2 at the end of the second over.
But Shikhar Dhawan carried on at the other end and even as the batsmen at the other end failed, the southpaw exhibited one of the powerful T20I performances as he whacked six fours and the same number of sixes en route to his 49-ball 90.
A 95-run partnership between him and Manish Pandey (37) resurrected the Indian innings but the left-hander ‘s untimely dismissal at the end of the 18th once again brought back Sri Lanka into the game. Rishabh Pant (23) and Dinesh Karthik (13*) too played brief knocks as India could only muster 174/5 in their 20 overs.
Sri Lanka 175/5 in 18.3 overs (Kusal Perera 66, Thisara Perera 22*; Washington Sundar 2/28) beat India 174/5 (Shikhar Dhawan 90, Manish Pandey 37; Dusmantha Chameera 2/33) by 5 wickets.