KL Rahul hit a classy half-century as India continued their domination over Sri Lanka to register a massive 93-run win, their biggest victory in T20s in Cuttack on Wednesday. Opening the batting, Rahul struck a quick 61 off 48 balls before leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal 423 triggered Sri Lanka's collapse to register the convincing win in the first T20l of the three-match series.
Earlier, in the absence of the first-choice opener Shikhar Dhawan, Rahul grabbed the opportunity with both hands hitting seven fours and one six en route to a 48-balls 61 after being put into bat by Sri Lanka skipper Thisara Perera. Rahul and number three Shreyas Iyer (24) put together 63 runs from 46 balls as India looked to push for a 200-run mark on a two-paced Barabati wicket before Sri Lanka bounced back dismissing the duo in a span of 11 balls.
Chahal then finished with brilliant figures of 4 for 23, taking a wicket in each of his four overs to lead Sri Lanka's downfall as the visitors Lanka were bundled out for 89 in 16 overs on a dew-laden Barabati Stadium. After the leg-spinner's guile, it was Kuldeep Yadav's turn to get into the act with figures of 2 for 18 as the wrist spin duo once again did the job for India. It was yet another pathetic batting show by the Sri Lankans, who showed little resistance as wickets kept tumbling after Upul Tharanga's 16-ball 23-run burst.
Sent into bat by opposition captain Thisara Perera, Rahul's classy fifty and some sensible batting from Mahendra Singh Dhoni (39 not out) and Manish Pandey (32 not out) powered India to a challenging 180 for three. Former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was promoted to number four, smashed an unbeaten 22-ball 39 and Pandey had other plans as the duo stitched an unbeaten 68-run stand off 34 balls for the fourth wicket to prop up India's total.
Playing his first match since his T20I debut in June 2016, left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat (1/7) returned to the side with elan, giving India the breakthrough in the second over. Unadkat dismissed Niroshan Dickwella (13) for his maiden T20I wicket as he conceded just seven runs in the first two overs before Chahal reigned supreme. Chahal was hit for successive fours and six by a dangerous-looking Tharanga but he bounced back with Dhoni taking a superb catch down the leg side.