Kusal Perera literally blew India away by scoring a brilliant 66 off 37 balls to take Sri Lanka to a five-wicket win in the opening match of the Nidahas Trophy tri-series on Tuesday. After the Indian batsmen put up a decent target of 175, their bowlers failed to make a mark as the hosts hammered the bowlers all around the park. Spinners Yuzvendra Chahal (2/37) and Washington Sundar (2/28) provided the crucial breakthroughs to control the run-flow but they couldn't stop the hosts from registering a famous win against the Rohit Sharma led-team.
Chasing 175, Sri Lanka got off to a poor 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-run partnership which saw some brilliant strokeplay. Perera hit newcomer Shardul Thakur for 27 runs in the third over to put pressure back on the Indians. 27 runs by Thakur was the second-most number of runs conceded in an over by an Indian bowler in T20Is. 32 conceded by Stuart Binny against Windies at Lauderhill in 2016 sits at the top of the pile.
Though, India made a comeback after dismissing Perera for 66 in the 13th over and senior batsman Upul Tharanga in the 15th but the partnership of Dasun Shanaka and Thisara Perera for the sixth wicket proved crucial in the end as they took their team home for a 5-wicket victory. This win itself is an achievement of sorts for Sri Lanka as they have managed to beat India after losing seven successive T20 games.
Earlier, India rode on Shikhar Dhawan's blistering 90 and Manish Pandey's calculated 37 to score 174/5. Dinesh Chandimal won the toss and put India to bat. The hosts struck early by dismissing the Indian captain for a duck in the very first over and then by removing Suresh Raina for just one run in the next over.
Two quick wickets rattled India's momentum. However, Dhawan and Pandey batted cautiously and hit boundaries at regular intervals as they kept the scoreboard ticking. The Indian pair was looking dangerous but Jeevan Mendis broke the 95-run partnership to stem the flow of runs. After Pandey's dismissal, Dhawan kept scoring from one end but gave away his wicket in search of quick runs. Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant provided the final flourish with a 21-run partnership.