A clinical India defeated Sri Lanka comprehensively by six wickets in the Nidahas Twenty20 Tri-Series, here on Monday.
Opting to bowl, young Shardul Thakur (four for 27) registered his best T20 bowling figures as Sri Lanka lost its way in the middle overs after Kusal Mendis’ 55 to be restricted to 152 for nine.
The match was reduced to a 19-overs-a-side affair after over an hour was lost due to rain. Chasing the modest target, India overcame early jitters riding on Manish Pandey’s unbeaten 42 and Dinesh Karthik’s 39 not out to overwhelm Sri Lanka’s total with nine balls to spare.
But it was not easy as India witnessed a horrendous start to its chase, losing skipper Rohit Sharma (11) and in-form Shikhar Dhawan (8) early.
Rohit’s lean patch with the bat continued. After a positive start with a six and four off Suranga Lakmal in the opening over, Rohit mistimed a shot straight to Kusal Mendis off Akila Dananjaya in the next over.
Dananjaya struck again an over later, this time getting the big wicket of Dhawan who gave a simple catch to Thisara Perera at mid-on.
Suresh Raina (27) and made his intentions clear with a couple of fours and sixes to lift India. But the left-hander chipped one straight to Thisara Perera at mid-off Nuwan Pradeep as India slumped to 63 for three after seven overs.
K.L. Rahul (18), who replaced Rishabh Pant, looked in good before being dismissed. After surviving a close run-out chance in the previous ball, Rahul got out hit-wicket trying to work a Jeevan Mendis delivery into the leg side.
But thereafter, Manish and Karthik stitched an unbeaten 68-run partnership for the fifth wicket to guide India home comfortably.
Earlier sent into bat, Kusal Mendis once again shone brightly for Sri Lanka scoring 55 off 38 balls with the help of three fours and as many sixes before Indian bowlers led by Shardul brought the side back into the game with wickets at regular intervals.
Shardul returned with impressive figures of four for 27, while young off-spinner Washinton Sundar scalped two wickets as India fought back strongly after leaking runs in the first 10 overs.
Left-arm pacer Unadkat was taken to the cleaners as he gave away 15 runs in the first over. But India pulled things back bit with two wickets in back-to-back overs.
Shardul gave India the breakthrough when he dismissed Danushka Gunathilaka in the third over with Suresh Raina taking a stunning catch at midwicket.
Washington then cleaned up in-form Kushal Perera in the next over as the batsman went for an expansive reverse sweep.
But thereafter Kusal Mendis took the the Indians bowlers to task in Upul Tharanga’s company as the duo added 62 runs for the third wicket to help Sri Lanka reach 94 for two after 10 overs.
Kusal did not spare any bowler while Tharanga played the second fiddle.