Kusal Perera's brilliant 66 off 37 balls and some crucial contributions from the middle-order helped Sri Lanka beat India by five wickets in the opening match of the Nidahas Trophy T20I tri-series in Colombo on Tuesday.
After the Indian batsmen put up a decent target of 175, their bowlers failed to make a mark as the hosts hammered the bowlers all around the park. Spinners Yuzvendra Chahal (2/37) and Washington Sundar (2/28) provided the crucial breakthroughs to control the run-flow. Towards the end, Dasun Shanaka (15 not out) and Thisara Perera (22 not out) played sensibly and helped their team clinch the issue.
Chasing 175, Sri Lanka got off to a bad start, losing opener Kusal Mendis (11) in the second over of the innings. But Danushka Gunathilaka (19) and in-form Perera forged a crucial 58-runs partnership which saw some brilliant strokeplay. Just when things seemed good in the middle, Gunathilaka was dismissed by pacer Jaidev Unadkat in the fifth over when scoreboard was reading 70/2.
Earlier, opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan cracked 90 off 49 deliveries to drive India to 174 for five. The left-hander struck six fours and equal number of sixes, while scoring his fifth T20I fifty as he shared a crucial 95-run third-wicket stand with Manish Pandey (37 off 35) to take the visitors to a strong total.
The pair of Dhawan and Pandey had joined hands after India were 9/2, following the dismissals of Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina. After the hosts asked India to bat, Jeevan Mendis took a sharp running catch from mid-off to dismiss Rohit Sharma (0) in the fourth delivery of the first over bowled by paceman Dushmantha Chameera.