Nidhas Trophy T20 Championship – IND vs SL: Kusal Perera blitz decimates India


March 6, 2018

Brief Scorecard: Sri Lanka 175 for 5 (Kusal Perera 66, Sundar 2-28) beat India 174 for 5 (Dhawan 90, Chameera 2-32) by five wickets

March 6, 2018

Brief Scorecard: Sri Lanka 175 for 5 (Kusal Perera 66, Sundar 2-28) beat India 174 for 5 (Dhawan 90, Chameera 2-32) by five wickets

March 6, 2018: Sri Lanka v India, 1st T20I, Nidahas Trophy, Premadasa Kusal Perera gestures to the dressing room after belting a 22-ball half-century – AP

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA – The start was dreary and the support bleary, but Shikhar Dhawan was steadily fiery as India rode on the opener’s 90 to reach a handsome score batting first. However, Kusal Perera’s blinder gifted Sri Lanka a five-wicket win in the opening tie of the tri-nation Twenty20 Nidahas Trophy at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Tuesday (March 6).

Fortune smiled on Dinesh Chandimal in the tournament being staged to celebrate 70 years of Sri Lanka’s independence as he won the toss and elected to bowl. The decision worked at the start, thanks to the extra bounce, and towards the end as the ball began to stay low. But in between, it was Dhawan’s rule as he smashed six boundaries and as many hits over the fence to power India to 174 for 5 in 20 overs.

India would have hoped for more but after losing Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina early, followed by scratchy innings from Manish Pandey (37) and Rishabh Pant (23), they were forced to settle for maybe 15 runs less than they would have liked.

In the Power Play period of Sri Lanka’s response, Rohit, the Indian skipper, was a nail-biting mess as Kusal Perera and Danushka Gunathilaka took his wayward bowlers to the cleaners, reaching an astounding 75 for 1 in six overs. Kusal maintained the tempo en route to a stellar 66 from 37 balls. Once he fell, Sri Lanka stuttered as the game neared the end. Eventually, though, they managed to hold their nerve and reach 175 for 5 from 18.3 overs as Thisara Perera muscled them home.

Lack of experience left India rudderless for most part during the run-chase as their young bowling unit looked to contain Sri Lanka’s batters on a ground with the ropes pulled in some distance. It wasn’t easy, especially with Kusal was in such touch, but once the left-hand batsman was dismissed by Washington Sundar in the 13th over, India sensed an opening.

But the frenetic rate of scoring didn’t leave India with enough to defend towards the end. After everything, Dhawan’s highest score in a T20I went in vain, a shame given that pace of the entire game hinged on that 49-ball stint from the left-hand batsman.

Though the pitch was playing tricks with extra bounce, he was unperturbed. The same can’t be said of Rohit and Raina, though.

Rohit, attempting a drive on the rise, couldn’t keep it down as the fourth delivery of the opening over from Dushmantha Chameera reared quick and took the bottom of the bat. The ball drifted over mid-off and Jeevan Mendis ran it down with a dive to pull off a stunner. Raina was dismissed in the mind as Nuwan Pradeep brought in a leg-slip to suggest rib-ticklers. The paceman, instead, bowled a full toss and Raina backed away to let the ball crash in.

Dhawan didn’t let the scoreboard dictate his shot-selection and neither did Manish Pandey. The duo added 95 runs for the third wicket, but Pandey’s innings frittered, while Dhawan kept it going.

When Pandey, frustrated with his timing by now, gave away his wicket to Mendis in the 13th over, Pant walked in. The youngster only looked to heave and came away with a painful-to-watch 23 from as many balls. Dinesh Karthik found the middle of the bat more often in his six-ball stay as he raced to 13 not out.

Eventually, Dhawan, dropped on 81 by Chandimal, was caught at long-off off Gunathilaka and that saw a dip in the scoring. Once Kusal went on a spree, it spread fear in the Indian ranks.

It all started in the third over of the chase. Sri Lanka were one down after Washington picked up Kusal Mendis, but they hit the front in haste as the other Kusal launched Shardul Thakur’s opening over for 27 runs. It read: 4, 4, 4, 6, 4nb, 4, 0.

With that over in tow, Sri Lanka raced to 70 runs in five overs, bringing the equation down to a cosy 105 from 15 overs.

Once Yuzvendra Chahal (2 for 37) clamped down and Washington (2 for 28) went through his spell with little emotion, India were in on the race. Kusal’s dismissal, stumped off Washington, would’ve aided that belief, but India didn’t back that feeling with precision with the ball. They let pressure get the better of them, while Sri Lanka’s middle order swung heavy and came away with the required runs.

Upul Tharanga’s 17, Dasun Shanaka’s 15 not out and a breezy 22 off 10 balls from Thisara eventually ended India’s soft defence of a decent score. It was Sri Lanka’s first victory in eight T20Is against India, and also the highest successful chase at the Premadasa.

Courtesy/Source: Wisden India