Kusal Janith Perera smashed a blazing half-century as Sri Lanka surged to a comfortable five-wicket win over India in the opening match of the Nidahas Trophy T20 tournament here at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Tuesday.
Chasing 175 to win after Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan lifted India to a formidable 174 with a career-best 90, hosts needed just 18.3 overs to reach the target sending the vociferous home fans into raptures.
Sri Lanka’s chase got off to a worse possible start as man in-form Kusal Mendis departed when the score was on 12, but Kusal Janith produced a blazing innings to set the tone for a successful chase. This was Sri Lanka’s only the third win at the venue out of 15 T20 internationals played.
Returning to the side after a brief injury lay-off, the southpaw was in great nick as he ruthlessly punished the hapless Indian bowlers, particularly that of medium pacer Narendra Thakur whose first over cost India a whopping 27 runs. Kusal Janith reached his 7th half ton in 22 deliveries and had four exquisite hits over the ropes and six boundaries in his entertaining knock in his final score of 66 which came off just 37 deliveries.
After Mendis departed Kusal Janith and Danushka Gunathilaka put on a strong partnership of 58 runs for the second wicket off just 21 deliveries as Sri Lanka collected 75 runs off the power-play—their highest ever in a T20 game. Gunathilaka left when the score was on 70, out caught at mid-off. He was soon followed by skipper Dinesh Chandimal (13) who had his stump rattled off the bowling of Yuzvendra Chahal. Kusal Janith and Upul Tharanga (17) followed soon but Thisara Perera and Dasun Shanaka took Sri Lanka over the line. Perera made 22 off 10 deliveries displaying his big hitting abilities while Shanaka remained unbeaten on 15.
"There have been a few injuries in the last several months. Prior to the tournament, I had played a few domestic games and I had done well. So I had confidence going into the first match of the competition and was very happy to do well," Perera said after the game.
Earlier, India lost skipper Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina cheaply but opener Shikhar Dhawan hit a career-best 90 to lead India to an imposing 174 for 5 after Sri Lanka skipper decided to field first.
Sharma who is leading the side in the absence of regular skipper had to walk back to the pavilion when the score was on just 1 when Jeevan Mendis held on to a sensational running catch at mid-off, off Dushmantha Chameera. Sharma hoisted over the man inside the circle but Mendis ran to his left to complete a stunning catch to remove the free scoring batsman. Sharma was soon followed by Suresh Raina who was clean bowled by a full toss. However, Dhawan and Manish Pandey put on a brilliant 93 for the third wicket to help India’s cause for a formidable total.
Dhawan hit 90 off 49 balls with six sixes and six boundaries as he took the Sri Lankan bowlers to the cleaners much to the disappointment of the local fans.
Pandey made 37 while R Pant who made his international debut made 23. Chameera was the pick of the bowler for Sri Lanka claiming 2 for 33
R Sharma c Mendis b Chameera 0
S Dhawan c Perera b Gunathilaka 90
SK Raina b Fernando 1
MK Pandey c Gunathilaka b Mendis 37
R.Pant c Fernando b Chameera 23
K.Karthik not out 13
Extras (b 1, lb 3, w 6) 10
Total ( for 5 wickets in 20.0 overs) 174
FOW: 1-1 (Sharma), 2-9 (Raina), 3-104 (Pandey), 4-153 (Dhawan), 5-174
Bowling (D.Chameera4-0-33-2, N.Pradeep2-0-28-0,A.Dhananjaya 4-0-37-0,T.Perera 2-0-18-0,T.Perera 3-0-25-0,J.Mendis 3-0-21-0,D.Gunathilaka 3-0-16-1)
D.Gunathilaka c Pant b Unadkat 19
BKG Mendis c Dhawan b Washington Sundar 11
K.Perera St Karthik b W.Sundar 66
D.Chandimal b Chahal 14
U.Tharanga b Chahal 17
D.Shanaka not out 15
T.Perera not out 22
Extras (lb 4, nb 1, w 6) 11
Total (for 5 wickets in 18.3 overs) 175
Fall of Wickets 1-12, 2-70,3-98,4-127,5-136
Bowling: J.Unadkat 3-0-35-1, W.Sundar 4-0-28-2 ,S.Thakur, Y.Chahal 4-0-37-2, V.Shankar 2-0-15-0,S.Raina 2-0-14-0