India back on track despite Thisara hat-trick


A Thisara Perera hat-trick proved in vain as India levelled their Twenty20 international series with Sri Lanka courtesy of an emphatic 69-run triumph in Ranchi.

The hosts had delivered an abject batting display on a green track in Pune on Tuesday, slumping to 101 all out and a five-wicket defeat.

However, Shikhar Dhawan's 25-ball 51 and similarly aggressive contributions from Suresh Raina (30 off 19) and Hardik Pandya (27 off 12) helped India to an imposing total of 196-6 on this occasion, which was never seriously threatened by Sri Lanka.

Thisara was at least able to celebrate only the fourth hat-trick in Twenty20 internationals, as Pandya, Raina and Yuvraj Singh (0) holed out to successive low full-tosses near the end of India's innings.

Yet that proved a rare highlight for Sri Lanka, who duly limped to 127-9 with only four men making double figures as Ravichandran Ashwin claimed 3-14.

After the tourists had chosen to field, Dhawan got India off to a flier, producing a dominant opening stand with Rohit Sharma (43 off 36) worth 75 in seven overs.

The pace of India's progress slowed as Rohit and Ajinkya Rahane (25) shared 47 for the second wicket, but Raina and Pandya soon lifted the tempo again - the latter striking successive sixes off Sachithra Senanayake (1-40).

India's desire to clear the boundary led to Thisara collecting three wickets in as many balls in the 19th over - the seamer following Brett Lee, Jacob Oram and Tim Southee in claiming a T20 international hat-trick.

Sri Lanka were nevertheless left with a big chase and their hopes were severely dented as Danushka Gunathilaka, the fit-again Tillakaratne Dilshan and Seekkuge Prasanna managed a combined tally of just three runs at the top of the order.

Skipper Dinesh Chandimal and Chamara Kapugedera hit 31 and 32 respectively, but the required run-rate soon spiralled out of control and India were assured of victory long before the end of Sri Lanka's innings.

The three-match series will be decided in Visakhapatnam on Sunday.