Pune: India's winning sequence in T20 internationals came to an embarrassing end on Tuesday after a heavily depleted Sri Lanka pulled off an upset five-wicket victory to take 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Put into bat on a lively track, which had fair amount of bounce and seam movement, India were skittled out for a paltry 101 in 18.5 overs with rookie pace trio of Kasun Rajitha (3/29), Dashun Shanaka (3/16) and Dushmantha Chameera (2/14) doing bulk of the damage.
Sri Lanka reached the target with two overs to spare.
Senior players Dinesh Chandimal (35) and Chamara Kapugedara (25) made useful contributions.
It turned out to be a blow for Mahendra Singh Dhoni after the team won 3-0 in the series Down Under to achieve the top rank in ICC table for shortest format.
If Rajitha blew away the top-order, it was Shanaka and Chameera, who decimated the middle and lower-order with only Ravichandran Ashwin with his unbeaten 31 helping home team cross the three-figure.
Such was the abject surrender by the Indian batsmen in the wake of extra bounce and moving deliveries that only Yuvraj Singh (10) and Suresh Raina (20) reached the double figures apart from Ashwin.
When Sri Lanka batted, they lost a few wickets in between but the target was too small to defend as the 39-run stand between skipper Chandimal and Kapugedara turned out to be a clincher. Milinda Siriwardana struck 21 off 14 balls as he finished the match with a flourish hitting Jasprit Bumrah for a six and a boundary.
There was no dearth of effort from the Indian bowlers with Ashish Nehra (2/21 in 3 overs) and Ashwin (2/13 in 3 overs) got a couple of wickets each but it was the failure of the batsmen that hurt India the most.
Earlier it turned out to be a 'Kasun-Dasun' show as Rajitha and Chanaka made full use of a green top bowling out a fancied Indian batting line-up in 18.5 overs.
22-year-old debutant Rajitha rocked India on the back foot with a triple strike in his sensational opening spell before another youngster Shanaka, who had played just one T20I before today, grabbed three wickets and Dushmantha Chameera, who has played four Tests, left the hosts in tatters at 58 for 7.
Only a late rearguard action by Ravichandran Ashwin, who top-scored with an unbeaten 31 off 24 balls, inclusive of 5 fours by playing authentic cricket shots on a track that sported some grass, saved the team from being bowled out for their lowest ever total.
But still the hosts failed to last the 20-over quota as Ashwin, Suresh Raina (20 in 20 balls) and Yuvraj Singh (10) were the only batsmen to reach double figures.
For Lanka, Rajitha and Shanaka were ably complemented by another speedster Dushmantha Chameera (2 for 14).
Debutant Rajitha had a dream start to his international career when he rocked the home team with a double strike in the very first over of the series and nearly got another in his next.
Rajitha sent back in-form opener Rohit Sharma for a duck off the second ball of his opening over, which was also the first over of the game and the series, and Ajinkya Rahane for four off the last ball.
Both the Mumbai batsmen were beaten by the extra pace and a bit of movement generated from the track by the 22-year Rajitha, who has played just ten first class domestic games so far. Both batsmen were also victims of brilliant, diving catches.
Sharma, who had such a glorious run in Australia in the recently concluded ODI and T20 International series, drove on the up the second ball he faced and spooned up the ball which was caught superbly at mid off by a diving Chameera.
Rahane glided the bowler to the third man fence off the fifth ball but off the last ball tried to turn to leg and the leading edge was caught by a diving rival skipper Dinesh Chandimal at short covers to make the home team a shocking 5 for 2 after 1 over.
Raina, who hit a six and a four, too should have departed for a duck when the debutant had him edge a step-out drive but Danushka Gunatilake at third man dropped a sitter.
Watching the sensational beginning at the non-striker s end was Shikhar Dhawan who smacked the other Lanka new ball bowler, Tisera Perera, over mid-wicket for a six to send a message across that the hosts will not be deterred by the loss of two early wickets.
And Raina celebrated his great escape by carting Rajitha for a four to long leg and a six over mid-wicket off successive balls but then struck another big blow by sending back Dhawan, caught at third man, off the leading edge when going for a big hit over mid-wicket.
At the fall of Dhawan, India were 32 for 3 off five, all three wickets having been taken by Rajitha in a sensational first spell of 3-0-23-3. And after the first 6-over power play the hosts had moved to 40.
Yuvraj Singh, who did not get to bat much in Australia, heralded his entry with a step-out straight six against off spinner Sachithra Senanayake when the bowler was brought into the attack in place of Rajitha.
Raina got another lease of life when Chandimal dropped him at deep mid-wicket off medium pacer Dashun Shanaka but was out to the very next ball, bowled through the gate by the bowler who has played only one T20 International before today.
And two balls later India were dealt another big blow when captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni departed for two, caught behind trying to swing Shanaka to leg and the home team were tottering at 51 for 5 in the ninth over.
Worse followed in the next over when Yuvraj, after being hit on the side of the helmet off the previous ball, played an ungainly heave to leg and put up a tame return catch to Chameera who too worked up good pace.
Shanaka secured his third wicket by trapping Hardik Pandya, playing across, leg before as India slumped to 58 for 7 after 11 overs and were in danger of beating their own record-low of 74 against Australia when Ravindra Jadeja was trapped leg before by off spinner Sachithra Senanayake.
But Ashwin saved them the ignominy by playing orthodox cricket shots with flicks, glances and cuts for fours as he ended up being the highest scorer of the innings.
His 9th wicket stand of 28 with Ashish Nehra (6) was also the best of the innings, overtaking the 27 put up for the third wicket by Dhawan (9) and Raina.
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Feb 10, 2016 08:39:10 IST