Pune, Feb 9 (IANS) Sri Lanka rode on a strong bowling performance to defeat India by five wickets in their first Twenty20 International (T20I) at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Tuesday.
Chasing a meagre target of 102 runs, the Lankans were boosted by a 39-run partnership by Dinesh Chandimal (35) and Chamara Kapugedera (25) to romp home with two overs to spare.
Earlier, rookie pacers Kasun Rajitha (3/29) and Dasun Shanaka (3/16) played a crucial role for the visitors with a three-wicket haul each.
Rajitha enjoyed a memorable debut, bagging two wickets in his very first over in international cricket.
Fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera (2/14) also bowled well, picking up a couple of wickets, including that of star batsman Yuvraj Singh.
Ravichandran Ashwin scored an unbeaten 31 to be the highest scorer for India.
Asked to bat first on a green wicket, the Indian batsmen struggled to cope with the appreciable swing and off-the-pitch movement generated by the Lankan pacers.
Rajitha handed Sri Lanka the advantage right at the start by dismissing Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Raane in the opening over.
Sharma virtually gifted away his wicket, placing a lofted drive off Rajitha neatly into the hands of Chameera at long-off.
Rahane also fell to a careless shot, offering and easy upper edge to Chandimal at short extra cover while attempting to play across the line.
The right-arm pacer should have bagged another wicket in his second over when Suresh Raina was surprised by the extra bounce of a short pitched delivery. The upper edge carried to third man where Danushka Gunathilaka dropped a sitter.
Shikhar Dhawan enjoyed no such luck a short while later when he attempted to smash a slightly outgoing delivery to the leg side. The ball took the flew off the top edge to third man where Gunathilaka made amends for his previous error.
When Shanaka sent back Raina and India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni with a couple of beautiful deliveries in the ninth over, India were in deep trouble at 51/5.
Ashwin tried to produce a late fight-back lower down the order, but rapidly ran out of partners as wickets continued to fall at the other end.
Defending a small total, the hosts had a glimmer of hope when veteran pacer Ashish Nehra dismissed debutant opener Niroshan Dickwella in the third ball of the Sri Lankan innings. Gunathilaka — the other opener — went cheaply as well, miscueing a pull off a short pitched delivery by Nehra.
Chandimal and Kapugedera then took charge, ably negotiating the Indian bowling despite a couple of close calls.
The introduction of Ashwin into the attack paid rich dividends for India as the off-spinner put Lankans in some trouble by bagging two wickets for just 13 runs in his three overs.
But Milinda Siriwardana (21 not out) played a spirited innings lower down the order to guide the visitors to victory with 12 balls to spare.