Irfan Pathan scalped five wickets as India warmed up for the World Twenty20 with a comfortable 26-run victory over host Sri Lanka in the practice match here on Saturday.
India scored 146 for five, riding on captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s unbeaten 55 and then Pathan took centre stage with an impressive five for 25 to skittle out the Islanders for 120 in 19.3 overs at the P. Sara Oval.
Continuing his fine run, Pathan ripped through the Lankan top order before coming back to dismiss the lower middle order in the end.
Set a victory target of 147, Sri Lanka received an early jolt as Pathan castled opener D. Munaweera in the last ball of the first over.
The 27-year-old then dismissed T. Dilshan with the last ball of his second over to leave the host reeling at 15 for two from the first three overs.
Kumar Sangakkara (32) combined with Angelo Mathews (16) to resurrect the Lankan innings but with Balaji getting the better of the latter, the target seemed to be a distant one for the host.
Sangakkara, in company of Lahiru Thirimanne, slowly but steadily took the Lankan total past 70 runs, punishing anything loose dished out by the bowlers.
Their partnership was, however, cut short as Harbhajan Singh, donning the India colours after a gap of over a year, bowled Sangakkara out in the 12th over to put India in the driver’s seat. Thirimanne (24) was the next man to go, giving Zaheer Khan his only wicket of the match.
Pathan then came back to haunt the Sri Lankan batsmen as he dismissed Thisara Perera and skipper Mahela Jayawardene off successive deliveries before cleaning off Jeevan Mendis in the last ball of his spell to close the doors on the host.
Balaji completed the formalities as India walked away with an easy victory.
Earlier, electing to bat, India was in a precarious situation at four for 51 before Dhoni and Rohit Sharma (37) stitched a 78-run partnership for the fifth wicket to lend some respectability to the Indian total.
With in-form Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh taking a long walk back to the pavilion by the end of ninth over, it was left to Rohit and Dhoni to do the damage control.
Both the batsmen looked comfortable at the crease sending the Lankans on a leather hunt. Dhoni in particular was very severe on anything loose as he clobbered his way to an unbeaten half-century with the help of three 6s and four 4s.
Rohit once again showed his liking for the shorter format of the game as he struck four hits to the fence and one over it to help India cross the 100-run mark.
The scores: India 146 for five in 20 overs (Dhoni 55 n.o., Rohit Sharma 37) bt Sri Lanka 120 in 19.3 overs (Sangakkara 32, Mendis 26, Irfan Pathan five for 25, Balaji three for 28).
Australia 139 for six in 20 overs (Watson 27, Wade 25 n.o.) bt New Zealand 83 in 17 overs (Hogg three for 23).
Zimbabwe 134 for six in 20 overs (Sibanda 40) lost to Bangladesh 135 for five in 18.2 overs (Ashraful 38, Shakib Al Hasan 28, Ziaur Rahman 26 n.o.)