India defeated Sri Lanka by 39 runs in the one-off T20 match here on Tuesday. Set to score 156 for a win, the host did not have a single decent partnership.
Sri Lanka’s opening pair was separated in the first over itself, with Irfan Pathan swinging the ball through the defence of Tillakaratne Dilshan (0).
Pathan, in fact, set the stage for India’s comeback, trapping Mahela Jayawardene (26) in front, and inducing a nick from Upul Tharanga (5).
He claimed three top-order wickets in his first three-over spell and the host never recovered after that.
Ashwin made matters worse for Sri Lanka when he bowled Lahiru Thirimanne (20), who attempted a reverse sweep, off the off-spinner's very first ball.
Earlier, India’s in-form batsman Virat Kohli (68), and Ajinkya Rahane (21) added 74 for the second wicket to steer the side to a respectable155 for three.
This was Kohli’s first half-century in this format. He also surpassed the highest score — 64 by Virender Sehwag at Mohali in 2009 — by an Indian against Sri Lanka in T20s.
Earlier, put in, India was off to an indifferent start, losing Gautam Gambhir (6) early to the debutant Shaminda Eranga.
Kohli and Rahane brought up 50 for the second wicket off just 34 deliveries. Rahane perished trying to increase the tempo, hitting a tossed up delivery back to bowler Jeevan Mendis.
Kohli, who was middling the ball, tried to clear a slower one from Eranga over mid-wicket but the ball just landed in the hands of Lahiru Thirimanne.
A full house watched the proceedings at the Pallekele Stadium.
India: G.Ghambir b Eranga 6 (8b, 1x4), A.Rahane c & b Mendis 21 (25b, 1x6), V.Kohli c Thirimanne b Eranga 68 (48 b, 11x4, 1x6), S.Raina (not out) 34 (25 b, 3x4, 1x6), M.S.Dhoni (not out) 16 (14b, 2x4). Extras (lb 7, w 3) 10. Total (for 3 wickets in 20 overs) 155.
Fall of Wickets: 1-7, 2-81, 3- 129.
Sri Lanka bowling: Mathews 3-0-23-0, Eranga 4-0-30-2, Malinga 4-0-31-0, Perera 4-0-34-0, Herath 3-0-17-0, Mendis 2-0-13-1.
Sri Lanka batting: M.Jayawardene lbw Pathan 26 (19b, 5x4), T.M.Dilshan b Pathan 0 (1b), U.Tharanga c Raina b Pathan 5 (4b), L.Thirimanne b Ashwin 20 (15b), A.Mathews c Dhoni b Dinda 31 (29b, 3x4), J.Mendis c Rahane b Yadav 11 (15b), D.Chandimal c Kohli b Dinda 7 (11b), T.Perera (run out) 1 (5b), S.Eranga c Ashwin b Dinda 6 (7b), L.Malinga c Dhoni b Dinda 0 (2b), R.Herath (not out) 0 . Extras (lb 2, w 7) 9: Total: (all out in 18 overs) 116.
Fall of Wickets: 1-7, 2-14, 3-35, 4-68, 5-96, 6-100, 7-102, 8-116, 9-116
India bowling: Pathan 4-0-27-3, Yadav 3-0-24-1, Dinda 3-1-19-4, Kohli 3-0-13-0, Sharma 1-0-9-0, Ashwin 4-0-22-1.