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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Second-string Lanka bring down mighty India

Second-string Lanka bring down mighty India

Last updated on: February 10, 2016 06:07 IST

Kasun Rajitha celebrates

IMAGE: Sri Lanka pacer Kasun Rajitha celebrates after dismissing Rohit Sharma in the first T20 International against India in Pune on Tuesday. Photograph: BCCI

Sri Lanka defeated India by five wickets in the first Twenty20 International to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, in Pune, on Tuesday.

- Scorecard

Chasing India's modest target of 102 runs, Lankan skipper Dinesh Chandimal led from the front, scoring 35 runs off as many balls, while Milinda Sriwardana's unbeaten 21 runs off 14 balls ensured a comparatively young visiting squad secured a morale-boosting victory.  

dinesh chandimal

IMAGE: Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal hits a six during his 35-run knock in the first T20I against India, in Pune. Photograph: BCCI.

Earlier, Sri Lanka's rookie pacers Kasun Rajitha and Dasun Chanaka made full use of a green top, shooting out a fancied Indian batting line-up for a paltry 101.

Debutant 22-year-old Rajitha (3-29) put India on the backfoot with a triple strike in a sensational opening spell before Shanaka (3-16), another youngster who had played just one T20I, grabbed three wickets and Dushmantha Chameera, who has played four Tests, left the hosts in tatters at 58 for 7.

Only a late rearguard action by Ravichandran Ashwin, who top-scored with an unbeaten 31 off 24 balls, inclusive of five fours, by playing authentic cricket shots on a track that sported some grass, saved the team from being bowled out for their lowest-ever total.

Still the hosts failed to last the 20 over' quota, as only Ashwin, Suresh Raina (20 off 20 balls) and Yuvraj Singh (10) got into double figures.

For Sri Lanka Lanka, Rajitha and Shanaka were ably complemented by Dushmantha Chameera (2-14), another speedster.

Debutant Rajitha had a dream start to his international career as he rocked the home team with a double strike in the first over of the series and nearly got another in his next.

He sent back in-form opener Rohit Sharma for a duck off the second ball of his opening over, which was also the first over of the game and series, and Ajinkya Rahane for four off the last delivery.

Both the Mumbai batsmen were beaten by the extra pace of the 22-year Rajitha, who has played just ten first class domestic games so far, and a bit of movement generated from the track. Both batsmen were also victims of brilliant, diving catches.

Sharma, who had such a glorious run in Australia in the recently-concluded ODI and T20 series, drove on the up the second ball he faced and spooned the ball, which was caught superbly at mid-off by a diving Chameera.

Rahane glided the bowler to the third man fence off the fifth ball, but off the last tried to turn to leg and the leading edge was caught by a diving rival skipper Dinesh Chandimal at short covers. It left the team on a shocking 5 for 2 after one over.

Raina, who hit a six and a four, too should have departed for a duck when the debutant had him edge a step-out drive, but Danushka Gunatilake, at third man, dropped a sitter.

Watching the sensational beginning at the non-striker’s end was Shikhar Dhawan, who smacked the other Lankan new ball bowler, Tisera Perera, over mid-wicket for a six to send a message across that the hosts would not be deterred by the loss of two early wickets.

Raina celebrated his great escape by carting Rajitha for a four to long leg and a six over mid-wicket off successive balls but then struck another big blow by sending back Dhawan, caught at third man, off a leading edge when going for a big hit over mid-wicket.

At the fall of Dhawan's wicket, India were 32 for 3 off five overs, all three wickets having been taken by Rajitha in a sensational first spell of 3-0-23-3. After the first 6-over power play the hosts were 40.

Yuvraj Singh, who did not get to bat much in Australia, heralded his entry with a step-out straight six against off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake when the bowler was brought into the attack in place of Rajitha.

suresh raina

IMAGE: India's Suresh Raina is bowled by Dasun Shanaka. Photograph: BCCI.

Raina got another lease of life when Chandimal dropped him at deep mid-wicket off medium pacer Dashun Shanaka but was out to the next ball, bowled through the gate by the young bowler.

And two balls later India were dealt another big blow when captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni departed for two, caught behind while trying to swing Shanaka to leg and the home team were tottering at 51 for 5 in the ninth over.

Worse followed in the next over when Yuvraj, after being hit on the side of the helmet off the previous ball, played an ungainly heave to leg and put up a tame return catch to Chameera, who too worked up good pace.

Shanaka secured his third wicket by trapping Hardik Pandya, who played across, leg before as India slumped to 58 for 7 after 11 overs and were in danger of beating their own record-low of 74 against Australia when Ravindra Jadeja was trapped leg before by off spinner Sachithra Senanayake.

R Ashwin

IMAGE: Ravichandran Ashwin top-scored for India with 31 runs off 24 balls. Photograph: BCCI.

But Ashwin saved them the ignominy by playing orthodox cricket shots with flicks, glances and cuts for fours as he ended up being the highest scorer of the innings.

His ninth wicket stand of 28 with Ashish Nehra (6) was also the best of the innings, overtaking the 27 put up for the third wicket by Dhawan (9) and Raina.

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