Thisara Perera-led Sri Lanka bounced back in red-hot form with the change of format as they bundled India out for a meagre 112 in 38.2 overs in the opening game of the three-match One-Day International (ODI) series at Dharamshala on Sunday. The Lankan lions left the number two ODI ranked team embarrassed as their bowlers did not allow the famed Indian batting line-up to perform to their capabilities. Winning the toss ,Perera elected to ball and put India into bat. Sri Lanka pacers Suranga Lakmal and Angelo Mathews ripped through the Indian batting top-order in swinging conditions as the home side lost seven wickets for 29.
Seldom you see Indian batsmen getting out cheaply but this time they could not counter the terrific Lankan bowling line-up as they were left troubled from the first ball of the innings. Eight of the Indian batsmen could not cross the double digit with four of them recording a duck. Only MS Dhoni (65), Hardik Pandya (10) and Kuldeep Yadav (19) registered a double digit score.
Veteran cricketer MS Dhoni and Kuldeep Yadav were the saving grace for India as they stitched together a partnership of 41 runs for the eighth wicket. While, Kuldeep perished for a well made 19 off 25 balls, Dhoni notched up a patient ODI half-century to help the hosts cross the 100-run mark.
For Sri Lanka, Lakmal was the pick of the bowlers as he finished with the figures of 10-4-13-4. He was ably supported by other pacers-- Angelo Mathews (1/8) and Nuwan Pradeep (2/37).
Interestingly, two of India's lowest totals below 100 have come against Sri Lanka -- 78 in 1986 and 54 in 2000.
Apart from this India was bowled out for 63 against Australia in 1981 and for 79 in Pakistan in 1978.
The half of the Indian batting line-up was gone for just 16 runs and at one stage, there was a possibility of the hosts being dismissed less than their lowest-ever ODI score of 54, but Dhoni showed his class once again and take the score past the 100-run mark. Dhoni clobbered 10 boundaries and two sixes in his crucial knock even as only two other Indian batsmen -- Hardik Pandya (10) and Yadav -- could reach double-digit figures.
Such was the dominance of the Lankan seamers that India scored 11 for 3 in the powerplay overs, the lowest 10-over score in an ODI in the last five years, and second-lowest overall and it would be a timely reminder for the hosts who would be playing in seaming pitches when they tour South Africa next month.
With India tottering at 2-2, Dinesh Karthik joined debutant Shreyas Iyer in the middle. After four maiden overs in the first five overs, Iyer finally hit the first four and also got off the mark when he guided a Mathews delivery to the mid-wicket boundary.
Living dangerously on the other end, Karthik was then sent back to the hut by Lakmal as India ended the powerplay overs at 11 for 3. Nuwan Pradeep replaced Mathews even as Perera persisted with Lakmal and it worked as the pacer produced a superb delivery to induce a thick outside edge off Manish Pandey as India slumped to 16-4.
Two balls later, Pradeep uprooted Iyer's stumps when the debutant inside-edged a delivery onto the stumps as the hosts lost half their side in the 14th over. Pandya then scored a couple of boundaries before giving an outside edge to Pradeep.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar could not stay for long and it was left to Dhoni and Yadav to avoid the ignominy of being bowled out for their lowest ODI total of 54 against the same opponent in 2000 at Sharjah.
Yadav looked in good touch as he blasted four boundaries but Dickwella produced a brilliant stumping off the bowing of spinner Akele Dananjaya to end his innings in the 26th over.
Dhoni then added 17 and 25 runs with No. 10 Jasprit Bumrah and No. 11 Yuzvendra Chahal before being holed out in the 39th over at cover off Perera.
(with PTI inputs)