Skipper Rohit Sharma led by example with a scintillating 41-ball 72 before India stuttered to settle for 173 for eight against Sri Lanka in their Asia Cup Super Four match in Dubai on Tuesday.
Rohit blazed away after India lost two early wickets, hitting five fours and four sixes during his entertaining knock. He was well supported by Suryakumar Yadav (34 off 29 balls) during a stand of 97 runs for the third wicket.
However, Rohit’s dismissal triggered a slide as India added 63 runs after being 110 for three in the 13th over, when the skipper got out.
Sri Lanka was off to a dream start as they removed opener K.L. Rahul (6) and one-down Virat Kohli (0) in quick succession, leaving defending champions India in early trouble at 13 for two in the third over.
Right after getting a boundary with a lofted drive over extra over, Rahul was trapped in front of the wicket by off-spinner Maheesh Theekshana’s arm ball in the second over of the game.
Having failed to connect with the ball after coming down the wicket, Rahul had opted for a review but it did not go his way as replays showed the ball going on to hit the leg stump.
In came Kohli, only for the Indian star to walk back to the dressing room after facing four deliveries for his zero, bowled neck and crop by left-arm fast bowler Dilshan Madushanka at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Trying to slog a length ball over midwicket, Kohli missed and his off and middle stumps were disturbed.
Rohit though remained positive and kept the scoreboard moving at a healthy rate, making his intention clear when he played Chamika Karunaratne over wide mid-on for a boundary.
Fast-medium bowler Asitha Fernando was introduced into the attack, and Rohit smashed him for a six and a four off successive balls as 14 runs came in the fifth over.
The Indian captain then hit Theekshana for a four over square leg, helping India score 44 runs in the six powerplay overs.
Leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga and Karunaratne then bowled a couple of tight overs, succeeding in containing the duo of Rohit and Suryakumar Yadav.
Meanwhile, Rohit was dropped at extra cover when batting on 40, off Hasaranga’s bowling.
Suryakumar brought up his first boundary after playing 12 balls, which was also India’s first after a quiet period.
In the next over, Rohit took advantage of his reprieve and whipped Asitha Fernando over deep square-leg for a six, and then reached his half century with a four.
Suryakumar also got into the act, striking Madushanka for a maximum. It was then again Rohit’s turn to get a six as the Indian captain danced down the wicket to loft Hasaranga over long-on. He followed that up with a four and then another six.
However, Karunaratne dismissed Rohit in the next over with a slower one.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (w), Deepak Hooda, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh.
Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (c), Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (w), Charith Asalanka, Danushka Gunathilaka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Maheesh Theekshana, Asitha Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka.