Kusal Perera made a mockery of the run chase as his innings helped Sri Lanka beat India by 5 wickets in the first T20 international of the Nidahas Trophy on Tuesday.
Set a target of 175, Lanka rode on Perera's quickfire 66 from 37 balls to reach home with 9 balls to spare and win the opening game of the T20I tri-series.
Perera's knock was laced with 6 boundaries and 4 sixes. Former captain Thisara Perera (22 not out) also made useful contribution down the order while Danushka Gunathilaka and Upul Tharanga chipped in with 19 and 17 runs respectively.
For India, Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal picked up two wickets while Jaydev Unadkat got one.
Shardul Thakur was the most expensive bowler on show at the R Premadasa going for 42 runs in 3.3 overs. He was smashed for 27 runs in the third over by Perera which set the tone for the run chase.
Chasing 175, Sri Lanka got off to a bad start, losing opener Kusal Mendis (11) in the second over of the innings.
But Danushka Gunathilaka (19) and in-form Perera forged a crucial 58-runs partnership which saw some brilliant strokeplay.
Just when things seemed good in the middle, Gunathilaka was dismissed by pacer Jaidev Unadkat in the fifth over when scoreboard was reading 70/2.
Unperturbed by the fall of wicket, Perera kept on punishing the Indian bowlers with incoming batsman Dinesh Chandimal (14).
In the ninth over, Chandimal was sent packing by leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal. Soon, Perera was dismissed by spinner Washington Sundar to bring India back into the game.
Upul Tharanga (17) also failed to utilise the start he got and was bowled by Chahal.
Now with the scoreboard reading 136/5, Shanaka and Perera waited for the bad balls and rotated the strike. Towards the end, Indian bowlers felt the pressure and leaked the runs -- and as a result, India lost the issue.
Earlier, Indian opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan cracked 90 off 49 deliveries to drive India to 174 for five after being put into bat.
The left-hander struck six fours and equal number of sixes, while scoring his fifth T20I fifty as he shared a crucial 95-run third-wicket stand with Manish Pandey (37 off 35) to take the visitors to a strong total.
The pair of Dhawan and Pandey had joined hands after India were 9/2, following the dismissals of Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina.
After the hosts asked India to bat, Jeevan Mendis took a sharp running from mid-off to dismiss Rohit Sharma (0) in the fourth delivery of the first over bowled by paceman Dushmantha Chameera.
Left-hander Raina (1) exposed his stumps, allowing himself room to hit paceman Nuwan Pradeep but the Indian failed, with the ball rattling his stumps.
Then Dhawan and Pandey began India's innings construction. While Dhawan was agressive against the Sri Lankan pacers who were throwing bouncers, Pandey was resolute, trying to find singles and twos and odd boundries.
Two off Dhawan's sixes came off top-edges over keeper on the bouncers delivered by Pradeep. He was good on the off-side too, cutting and driving with aplomb.
Pandey struggled with his big shots and ine one desperate attempt which saw him drag leg-spinner Mendis to the hands of Danushka Gunathilaka at deep mid-wicket.
Dhawan, however, continued, his assault, hitting two sixes against Chameera. Leg-spinner Akila Dhananjay and off-spinner Gunathilaka also faced his ire.
He was dismissed after failing to clear Thisara Perera at long-off off Gunathilaka.
Later, Rishbah Pant struggled, scoring a run-a-ball 23 as he and Dinesh Karthik (13 not out off six) took India to 174/5.
The next match of the tri-series will be played between Bangladesh and India on Thursday (March 8).
Source: India Today