COLOMBO: Paceman Shardul Thakur picked four key wickets to set up a comfortable six-wicket win for India in a tri-series Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka on Monday. The 26-year-old Thakur, playing his fifth T20 international, impressed with his pace and guile to help India dismiss the hosts for 152-9. In reply, India coasted to the target with nine balls to spare, thanks to a fine 42 off 31 balls by Manish Pandey and a 39-run knock by Dinesh Karthik. “It was a great effort by the bowling unit considering the conditions were not easy for the bowlers,” said Indian skipper Rohit Sharma. “There was some dew (but) they came out and delivered the goods…. Also, the way they (Pandey and Karthik) finished the game, it was crucial.” India appeared in trouble at 85-4 but Pandey and Karthik batted sensibly, adding 68 runs for the unbroken fifth wicket. “They (Sri Lankan bowlers) started well but we had discussed that batting at number five I should be there till the end to finish off games,” said Pandey. The match was reduced to 19-overs a side after the start was delayed by about an hour due to rains and a wet outfield.
Earlier Kusal Mendis hit a quickfire half-century to ensure Sri Lanka a competitive total on the board. The opener hit three fours and as many sixes in his 38-ball knock at the R. Premadasa stadium. Mendis though got little support from the other batsmen as the hosts kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Thakur, who was named man of the match, bagged four wickets for 27 runs off his four overs. Upcoming off-spinner Washington Sundar took two wickets as the India bowlers fought back after a sloppy first 10 overs. India made one change to the side that won against Bangladesh on Thursday, bringing in batsman K.L. Rahul in place of Rishabh Pant. Sri Lanka picked Suranga Lakmal in place of captain Dinesh Chandimal who has been suspended for two games due to an over-rate offence. The win propelled India into contention for a place in the final of the tournament that has Bangladesh as the third team. The next match will be played between India and Bangladesh on Wednesday with the final slated for Sunday.