Ind vs SL: Sri Lanka registers comfortable victory

Sri Lanka defeated India by 5 wickets in the first T20 international. Chasing 102, the visitor achieved the target with two overs to spare.

Rajitha (left) was the pick of the bowlers, picking up important wickets that stemmed the flow of runs in the Indian innings.   -  AP

Sri Lanka refreshingly demonstrated what a talented side with a fighting spirit can achieve even against tremendous odds. Straddling on Kasun Rajitha’s penetrating overs with the new ball, it seized a wonderful opportunity to inflict a five-wicket defeat on India in the first match of the three-match Twenty20 series at the Maharashtra Cricket Association International Stadium here on Tuesday.

The visitor lost its openers by mid-way through the fifth over, but skipper Dinesh Chandimal and Chamara Kapugedara put on the highest partnership of the match and ensured that their team will fly to Ranchi with 1-0 lead. Brought after 11 overs, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin captured two wickets with Suresh Raina plucking a full blooded sweep by Dasun Shanaka when all hopes had actually vanished for the home team.

>Full scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Rajitha breaks India's back

The visitor may have scored a team win, but without doubt Rajitha was the toast of the match. Fast bowlers come in different physical attributes and generally show their mettle with their ability to generate speed and extract alarming bounce that is directed towards the body. On occasions they make the batsmen quiver in their boots.

The strapping Kasun Rajitha, a tyro certainly in international cricket, can claim to have made the Indian batsmen nervous wrecks in his first over itself. He made such a terrific impact that India could muster only a paltry 101, that too thanks to the individual brilliance of R. Ashwin, who contributed to the rearguard with Ashish Nehra.

Playing his first match for Sri Lanka, the Matara-born 22-year-old Rajitha looked every inch a speed merchant in his opening burst of three overs when he scalped the wickets of Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan and straightway brought India to its knees in the opening match of the three-match Twenty20 series in front of a packed house at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) International Stadium on Tuesday.

Rajitha’s incisive and remarkable first over in which he made Rohit drive into the hands of Dushmantha Chameeera at mid-off and then induced a leading edge from Rahane, promoted to No. 3 in the absence of Virat Kohli, brought to the fore the capabilities of a young fast bowler who has been a find in the Twenty20 domestic cricket at home. More significantly it lifted the team spirit.

Whether the surface -- with a fair grass cover right across the length of the pitch, prepared by former State fast bowler Pandurang Salgaonkar -- had anything to do with the initial success of Rajitha, and later of medium pacer Dasun Shanaka, is a matter of conjecture. But the home team appeared to wilt under extreme pressure brought upon by Rajitha, who completed his opening spell of three overs with the wicket of Dhawan, playing a horrendous shot in the circumstances and offering a catch to Danushka Gunathilake at third man. The fielder had earlier let off Suresh Raina in the same position.

India failed to see the potential in Rajitha, Shanaka and also Chameera, who accounted for the wicket of Yuvraj Singh, after being hit on the body and helmet.

Rohit may have made the mistake of essaying a drive off the second ball that travelled straight towards mid-off where Chameera dived to his right to bring off a two-handed catch. Rahane looked to play on the on-side and the leading edge was taken by Chandimal two-handed at short cover.

The situation called for intelligent and smart batting from Dhawan and Raina, but both decided to take the Sri Lankan seamers head on and gifted their wickets. By the 10th over India was in the doldrums losing the wicket of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh.

If Rajitha startled and shocked the Indian top order, Shanaka broke the back with a three-wicket spell.

Coming at No. 9 Ashwin stemmed the rot playing like a technically well-equipped batsman. His partnership with Nehra for 28 runs took India to 100. Jasprit Bumrah’s exit following a mis-field brought to close the first session, with seven balls going waste.

Rajitha and Shanaka may have captured six wickets, but the Indian batsmen did not show courage and gumption in order to offer a fitting riposte. It was an inept display by Dhoni’s team after being invited to bat.

The teams:

India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra

Sri Lanka: Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka, Dasun Shanaka, Dinesh Chandimal (capt & wk), Milinda Siriwardana, Chamara Kapugedera, Thisara Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Sachithra Senanayake, Dilhara Fernando, Shaminga Eranga

Form guide:

India: WWWLL

Sri Lanka: LLLWL

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