Match report: SL v Ind – Only T20I
Kandy, Aug 7: India wrapped up a successful tour of Sri Lanka by beating the latter in the sole T20I played between the two sides In Kandy. After Virat Kohli’s highest T20I score of 68 powered the visitors to a challenging score of 155, the Indian bowlers, led by Irfan Pathan (three for 27) and Ashok Dinda (four for 19), helped bowl out the hosts for a paltry 116.
Both teams made changes to their squads ahead of the game. Umesh Yadav replaced Zaheer Khan in the Indian squad while Rangana Herath and pacer Shaminda Eranga found themselves in the Sri Lankan playing eleven. Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and opted to field first.
Gautam Gambhir (6) survived a dropped catch at deep midwicket in the very first over, but couldn’t consolidate on the opportunity. The opener was bowled by debutant Eranga in the second over to leave India at seven for one in 1.4 overs. Eranga’s joy, though, was shortlived. Virat Kohli, having smashed Angelo Mathews for consecutive boundaries in the third over, struck three fours off Eranga in the fourth over to get the visitors on their way. Kohli continued his assault, glancing, slicing and flicking Thisara Perera for consecutive fours in the sixth over to take India to 50 for one at the end of six overs.
With Kohli dominating the strike, Ajinkya Rahane lofted Perera for six over wide long-off to do his bit to keep the scoreboard moving. However, Rahane’s innings came to an end not very much later. The opener was caught and bowled by Jeevan Mendis when he tried to chip the legspinner down the track. India were 81 for two in 11.3 overs at the fall of Rahane’s (21) wicket.
Kohli, meanwhile, continued unfettered. Two balls after Rahane’s dismissal he hit Mendis into the stands over deep midwicket for maximum. And with Suresh Raina joining in on the assault on the Lankan bowlers, the visitors went past the 100-run mark in the 13th over.
Kohli, who posted his debut half-century in T20 Internationals during the course of his innings, made 68 before he was caught at deep midwicket off Eranga. But with Raina (34*) and Dhoni (16*) knocking off 25 runs off the last three overs, India posted a competitive 155 for three at the end of their innings.
Man-of-the-match in the last ODI, Irfan Pathan, then struck early blows for the visitors to make a total of 155 look even more imposing. Pathan knocked back Tillakaratne Dilshan’s (0) stumps and had Upul Tharanga (5) caught at first slip in successive overs to leave the Lankans stuttering at 14 for two in 2.1 overs. Mahela Jayawardene (26), who opened the innings with Dilshan, tried to steer Sri Lanka past the crisis with four delectable boundaries off Umesh Yadav in the fourth over, but was trapped lbw by Pathan in the fifth over with the score at 35.
Lahiru Thirimanne and Angelo Mathews struck a few boundaries to give the fans at the Pallekele Stadium something to cheer about. But with Thirimanne (20) falling to R Ashwin in the 10th over and Mathews (31) caught by Dhoni off Ashok Dinda in the 13th over, the hosts lost all hope of chasing down the target. Dinda had the last three Lankan batsman caught to bring an end to the hosts’ innings at the end of the 18th over and seal a 39-run victory for India.
The win takes India up to fourth spot from seventh place in the ICC T20 rankings.
Brief scores: India 155/3 in 20.0 overs (Virat Kohli 68, Suresh Raina 34*, Shaminda Eranga 2/30) beat Sri Lanka 116/10 in 18.0 overs (Angelo Mathews 31, Mahela Jayawardene 26, Ashok Dinda 4/19, Irfan Pathan 3/27) by 39 runs
Man-of-the-match: Irfan Pathan for dismantling the Sri Lankan top-order early on with three top-quality wickets.