Kusal Janith Perera smashed a 37 ball 66, reminiscent of his mentor Sanath Jayasuriya as Sri Lanka cruised to a 5 wicket win in the Nidahas Trophy tournament opener against India at the R Premadasa.
Sri Lanka got off to a shaky start in their chase of 175 as Kusal Mendis was dismissed by Washington Sundar after a couple of risky boundaries. Kusal Perera was pushed up the order and what a masterstroke it proved to be as the left hander clobbered the Indian bowlers to all parts. He took a special liking to Shadur Thakur, smashing 27 off the 3rd over to give the Sri Lankan innings some momentum.
Danushka Gunathilake then joined the party with a six off the bowling of Sundar as Sri Lanka’s chase got well and truly underway. Perera was creaming the bowlers to all parts but unfortunately for Gunathilake, in a bid to try and replicate the formers exploits, he fell offering an easy chance to Rishab Pant at mid-off.
Perera brought up his 50 in just 22 deliveries as Sri Lanka reached the halfway stage to their innings, needing just 74 in the last ten overs. Despite the relative ease with which Perera was finding the boundary, the men on the other end were not so fortunate, with Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal maintaining a tight line and length.
Dinesh Chandimal and Upul Tharanga were dismissed by the spin bowling pair and when Perera fell for 66 with 48 still required in 7 overs, India were still in with a chance. However, both Dasun Shanaka and Thisara Perera continued their form from the tour of Bangladesh to guide the home side to what was in the end a relatively comfortable win. Perera smashed 22 off 10 deliveries while Shanaka made 15; the pair remained unbeaten.
The target of 175 is the highest total chased down in a T20 International at the R Premadasa which is renowned as a low scoring ground.
After winning the toss and asking India to have a bat earlier in the day, Sri Lanka began the game perfectly as Dushmatha Chameera managed to claim the prized scalp of Rohit Sharma with the 4th ball of the innings. Much of the credit for the wicket should go to Jeewan Mendis however, as he took a stunning catch running backwards towards long off.
Nuwan Pradeep struck in the next over to remove Suresh Raina as the left hander made room for himself on the off stump, only to miss a straight, low full-toss.
From that point on India began to rebuild, going from 40/2 at the end of the powerplay to 80/2 at the end of the 1st 10 overs. Manish Pandey and Shikhar Dhawan put on 95 for the 3rd wicket and set the foundation for a big score.
Pandey fell to the guile of Jeewan Mendis, who had nearly had Dhawan LBW with his 1st delivery of the game that was pitching marginally outside the leg stump.
Dhawan was looking good for another ton against Sri Lanka and with the boundaries brought in at the Premadasa, had no difficulty clearing the ropes.
Gunathilake had him caught at long off for 90 against the run of play as India finished with 174 courtesy a few quick runs off the bat of Dinesh Karthik to finish things off.
The score did not prove to be enough in the end as Sri Lanka go home with an over and a half to spare.
Sri Lanka won by 5 wickets
|R.Sharma||c Jeevan Mendis b Dushmantha Chameera||0||4|
|S.Dhawan||c Thisara Perera b Danushka Gunathilaka||90||49|
|S.K.Raina||b Nuwan Pradeep||1||3|
|M.Pandey||c Danushka Gunathilaka b Jeevan Mendis||37||35|
|R.pant||c Nuwan Pradeep b Dushmantha Chameera||23||23|
Sri Lanka’s Innings
|Danushka Gunathilaka||c Rishabh Pant b Jaydev Unadkat||19||12|
|BKG Mendis||c Shikhar Dhawan b Washington Sundar||11||6|
|Kusal Janith||st. by Dinesh Karthik b Washington Sundar||66||37|
|LD Chandimal||b Yuzvendra Chahal||14||11|
|WU Tharanga||b Yuzvendra Chahal||17||18|
|MD Shanaka||not out||15||18|
|NLTC Perera||not out||22||10|