Ranchi Twenty20: Dhawan Powers India to Series-Levelling Win Over Sri Lanka
Shikhar Dhawan blasted a 22-ball half-century to get India off to rollicking start against Sri Lanka in the second Twenty20 in Ranchi.
Shikhar Dhawan (51 off 25) smashed his maiden fifty in T20 Internationals to fire India to 196/6 and the home team's strong batting effort came despite Thisara Perera's hat-trick in the penultimate over of the innings.
The other notable performances in the Indian innings came from Rohit Sharma (43 off 36), Hardik Pandya (27 off 12) and Suresh Raina (30 off 19). Sri Lanka could never recover from a poor start and ended at 127/9 in 20 overs.
The visitors made a mess of the steep chase by losing their first three wickets for 16 runs.
Star spinner Ravichandran Ashwin struck in the first legitimate ball of the innings with Dhoni pulling off a split second stumping to send back Tillakaratne Dilshan. Ashwin had started his spell with two wides.
Old horse Ashish Nehra had Seekkuge Prasanna on the very first ball of his opening spell before inducing an edge from opener Danushka Gunathilaka to leave Sri Lanka tottering.
Chamara Kapugedera (32) and captain Dinesh Chandimal (31) shared a brisk 52-run stand for the fourth wicket before Ravindra Jadeja got rid of them in successive balls to dash all hopes of a Sri Lankan comeback. Dhoni displayed another quickfire stumping to send Chandimal back in the dressing room.
Earlier, Sri Lanka put the hosts in to bat for the second game in a row and Indian openers were on fire from the word go. Unlike the greenish deck for the first T20 in Pune, the dry pitch here aided the strokeplay they are known for.
Pacer Kasun Rajitha, who troubled the famed Indian batting on his international debut in Pune, proved to be expensive this time. The 22-year-old bowled short and wide on the very first ball of the match and Rohit comfortably dispatched it to the point boundary.
Dhawan got going with a couple of delightful sixes. He flicked pacer Perera over mid-wicket before sweeping spinner Sachithra Senanayake in the following over for another maximum. There was no stopping Dhawan after that as he got to his maiden fifty in 22 balls.
Rohit did not mind watching Dhawan demolishing the opposition bowlers from the other and by the end of six overs, India had to raced to 70 for no loss.
Sri Lanka badly needed a breakthrough to stop the onslaught of the dangerous opening duo and it was provided by pacer Dushmantha Chameera, who had Dhawan caught behind with a sharp and straight rising ball. The southpaw thoroughly entertained the Ranchi crowd with his cracking innings that comprised seven fours and two sixes. Ajinkya Rahane joined Rohit in the middle but suddenly the boundaries were hard to come by with spinner coming into play on a dry surface.
Rahane released the pressure by hitting consecutive fours off medium pacer Dasun Shanaka. India were now 122 for one in 13 overs and 200 was very much a possibility.
The innings' flow was obstructed once again when Chameera pulled off a spectacular caught and bowled off Rohit before Senanayake had caught Rahane at cover point, leaving India at 127/3 in the 15th over.
Pandya, sent ahead of MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, came to the party in the final overs in the company of Raina. He smashed Senanayake for consecutive sixes before Raina joined the part by picking up three fours off Chameera in the very next over.
India could have scored more had it not been for the hat-trick of Perera, who removed Pandya, Raina and Dhoni in the 19th over. It was the fourth ever hat-trick in T20 Internationals and first by a Sri Lankan.
The final match of the three-match series will be played in Visakhapatnam on Sunday.