Kusal Perera's blazing half-century trumped Shikhar Dhawan's 49-ball 90 as Sri Lanka defeated India in the opening T20I of the Nidahas Trophy tri-series by five wickets at R Premadasa Stadium on Tuesday. Riding on Perera's 37-ball 66, the hosts chased down 175 in 18.3 overs.
Perera smashed Indian bowlers all around the park with pacer Shardul Thakur bearing the brunt of his assault, leaking 27 runs in his first over of the night. He struck him for three straight fours followed by a six over mid-off. Stunned by the hiding, Shardul ended up bowling a waist-high no-ball and ended up being hit for two more fours. Sri Lanka sprinted to their fifty in 3.4 overs and by the time Powerplay was over, had scored 75/2.
Perera reached his half-century off 22 deliveries – his eighth in the format. By the time he was stumped, Sri Lanka needed just 48 runs from seven overs. Yuzvendra Chahal and Shardul then bowled some tight overs to make the chase interesting but Thisara Perera (22*) and Dasun Shanaka (18*) wiped off the arrears comfortably to seal two points.
Earlier, Dhawan hit 90 off 49 to guide India to a challenging total after they lost two wickets inside two overs. Captain Rohit Sharma (0) and Suresh Raina (1) fell cheaply after being sent in by Sri Lanka. Then Dhawan and Manish Pandey (37) got together to repair the early damage with a solid 95-run stand for the third wicket.
Dushmantha Chameera gave India a big jolt in the first over itself when he had Rohit caught by Jeevan Mendis who took a breath-taking diving catch while running back from mid-off. Suresh Raina was then clean bowled off a full toss in the second over leaving India in a spot of bother at 9/2. However, Dhawan snatched back the momentum with a strokeful innings during which he hit six fours and six sixes. He reached his 50 off 30 deliveries and was looking set to record a maiden ton when he was caught at long-off in the 18th over. While Dhawan played a flowing innings, his partner was scratchy and in his effort to score quickly, Pandey holed out for 35-ball 37. Rishabh Pant (23) and Dinesh Karthik (13*) applied the finishing touches as India creamed 50 runs off their final five overs.
However, Kusal Perera was in murderous mood as his assault ensured a comfortable victory for Sri Lanka - their first over India in the format since February 2016.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 175/5 (Kusal Perera 66, Danushka Gunathilaka 19; Washington Sundar 2/28, Yuzvendra Chahal 2/37) beat India 174/5 (Shikhar Dhawan 90, Manish Pandey 37; Dushmantha Chameera 2/33)