Colombo, Sri Lanka | AFP – Kusal Perera hit a blazing half-century to power Sri Lanka to a five-wicket win over India in the opening Twenty20 international of the tri-nation tournament on Tuesday.
Chasing 175 for victory, the hosts rode on Perera’s 37-ball 66 to achieve their target with nine balls to spare at Colombo’s R Premadasa Stadium.
The left-handed Perera, who hit 6 fours and 4 sixes, overshadowed Indian opener Shikar Dhawan’s career-best 90 that saw the visitors post 174-5 after being put into bat first.
Spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar hurt Sri Lanka’s chase by picking up two wickets each but Perera’s fiery start made sure the hosts stand tall.
The islanders lost an early wicket but a 58-run second-wicket partnership between Perera, who notched up his eighth T20 fifty, and Danushka Gunathilaka put their innings back on track.
Perera, who hit paceman Shardul Thakur for 27 runs with 5 fours and a six in the third over of the innings, took the steam out of the inexperienced Indian bowling attack.
Perera though faltered after getting stumped to Sundar’s off spin as the Sri Lankan chase wobbled with the Indian bowlers coming back with some disciplined effort.
Thisara Perera, on 22, and Dasun Shanaka, on 15, then put on an unbeaten 39-run stand to keep up the spirits of a raucous home crowd.
Earlier Dhawan’s 49-ball blitz, laced with 6 fours and 6 sixes, lifted India from a precarious 9-2 to put up a respectable total.
Dhawan put on a crucial 95-run third-wicket stand with Manish Pandey, who made 37, to test the Sri Lanka bowling but missed out on a ton after falling to Gunathilaka’s off-spin.
Pace spearhead Dushmantha Chameera claimed two wickets including the prized scalp of India skipper Rohit Sharma for nought in the first over of the innings.
India will take on Bangladesh in the next match of the tournament, which is timed to commemorate Sri Lanka’s 70 years of independence, on Thursday.