Colombo: Irfan Pathan scalped five wickets as India warmed up for the World T20 with a comfortable 26-run victory over Sri Lanka in their first practice match on Saturday.
India rode Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s unbeaten 55 to score 146 for five. Then Pathan took the centre-stage with an impressive five for 25 to skittle out the hosts for 120 in 19.3 overs at the P. Sara Oval.
Continuing his fine run, Pathan ripped through the Lanka top-order before coming back to dismiss the lower middle-order in the end.
The pacer was ably supported by comeback man Lakshmipathy Balaji, who claimed three for 28.
Set a victory target of 147, Sri Lanka received an early jolt as Pathan castled opener Dilshan Munaweera on the last ball of the first over.
The 27-year-old then dismissed Tillekaratne Dilshan with the last ball of his second over to leave the hosts reeling at 15 for two from first three overs.
Kumar Sangakkara (32) combined with Angelo Mathews (16) to resurrect the Lankan innings, but with Balaji getting the better off the later, the target seemed to be a distant one for the hosts.
Sangakkara, in company of Lahiru Thirimanne, slowly but steadily took Lanka past 70, punishing anything lose dished out by the bowlers.
Their partnership was, however cut short as Harbhajan Singh, who bowled Sangakkara out in the 12th over to put India in the driver’s seat.
Thirimanne (24) was the next man to go, giving Zaheer Khan his only wicket of the match. Pathan then came back to haunt the Sri Lankan batsmen as he dismissed Thisara Perera and skipper Mahela Jayawardene of successive deliveries before cleaning off Jeevan Mendis on the last ball of his spell to close the doors on the hosts.
Balaji completed the formalities as India walked away with a victory.
Earlier, electing to bat, India were in a precarious situation at 51 for four before Dhoni and Rohit Sharma (37) stitched together a 78-run partnership for the fifth wicket to lend some respectability to the Indian total.
The visitors did not have an auspicious beginning as Gautam Gambhir was forced to leave the field as early as in the first over after being hit on the right wrist by a Lasith Malinga delivery. (agencies)