Kusal Perera aggressive 66 runs knock off just 37 balls steered Sri Lanka to a five-wicket victory against India in the opening Nidahas Trophy Twenty20I tri-series at Colombo. Perera’s onslaught overshadowed Shikhar Dhawan’s brilliant innings of 90 off 49 balls which allowed India to reach 174 for 5 in 20 overs.
While chasing 175, the hosts lost Kusal Mendis in the second over but then Kusal Perera took the reins in his hands and tore apart India’s inexperienced bowlers. He hammered Shardul Thakur for 27 runs in the third over of the innings and propelled Sri Lanka to 75 after six overs; their highest ever score in powerplay.
Indian spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar tried to stage a comeback by drying out runs in the middle overs and picking quick wickets but Thisara Perera’s blitzkrieg cameo of 22 not out of just 10 balls helped the hosts to gun down the target in the 19th over itself.
Washington Sundar was India’s most successful bowler as he picked two wickets for 28 runs in his four overs.
Earlier in the match, Shikhar Dhawan’s good batting form continued as he scored his highest T20I score. The Indian opener added 95 runs from 64 balls with Manish Pandey for the third wicket after India got off to a disastrous start as skipper Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina were dismissed inside the first two overs.
Playing in the absence of key players such as Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, India’s middle order failed to capitalize on the start provided by Dhawan and India could only reach 174 after 20 overs on a flat surface.
Manish Pandey scored 37 off 35 balls and Rishabh Pant scored 23 runs off 23 balls but both batsmen failed to boost the run-rate. Dushmantha Chameera picked two wickets in his four overs while Danushka Gunathilaka tied down India in the middle overs by conceding just 16 runs off his three overs.
The second T20I of the series will be played between India and Bangladesh on March 08.