Kusal Perera was a man with a mission as he took apart the Indian attack to help Sri Lanka on its way to a five-wicket win over India in the Nidahas T20 Trophy opener here on Tuesday.
Chasing a target of 175, the Lankan southpaw made full use of the PowerPlay to hammer 66 of 37 balls, laced with six fours and four sixes, to bring down the run-rate and lay the platform for the other batsmen to guide the host home with nine balls to spare.
Earlier, Shikhar Dhawan continued his fine run in the limited-overs format, smashing 90 off 49 balls, as India shrugged off a poor start to post a competitive 174 for four
Dhawan hammered six sixes and as many fours in an entertaining effort which came after the early loss of captain Rohit Sharma (0) and Suresh Raina (1).
Rohit fell to a spectacular catch, running backwards, by Jeevan Mendis off Dushmantha Chameera off the fourth ball of the innings.
It became nine for two as Raina saw his stumps rattled off a full toss from Nuwan Pradeep after he backed away outside the leg stump.
Dhawan then gave the innings a much- needed move on with the help of Manish Pandey (37 off 35) as they shared a 95-run stand.
The stylish left-hander also had luck on his side en route to his fifth T20 half century as a top edge off consecutive balls sailed over the boundary ropes.
The Lankan bowlers too helped the Indian team’s cause by offering way too many loose balls.
Dhawan got into the act with back-to-back fours off Pradeep in the fifth over before top-edging him over the wicket-keeper and long leg for consecutive sixes in the ninth over. By the end of 10 overs, India had recovered to 80 for two.
The opener kept toying with the opposition attack and was well on his way to a maiden hundred in T20 Internationals. However, he fell in the 18th over off spinner Danushka Gunathilaka while attempting to hit another one out of the park.
Rishabh Pant, who came out to bat ahead of Dinesh Karthik, scored a run-a-ball 23. Karthik came up with two handy fours in the final over, ending with 13 off six balls.