India lost the lung-opener by five wickets with Perera putting the inexperienced visiting attack to sword during his 37-ball 66. India had managed to reach a mere 40 for 2 in the first six overs after being reduced to 9 for 2 in two overs. On the other hand, Sri Lanka posted 75 for two in the powerplay, courtesy Perera, who smashed 27 runs off Shardul Thakur in the second over with the help of five fours and a six.
"It was in the first six overs that they took the game away from us. After the first six overs even they weren't hitting the ball that frequently - it wasn't like 10 an over against the spinners in the middle overs. That's because the wicket was a little slow," Dhawan said.
Dhawan heaped praise on Perera, who had the crowd on its feet with a scintillating knock which included half a dozen fours and four sixes. "The way Kushal scored that 27 runs in that over, they were 75 after six overs, that made the difference," he said.
Dhawan said losing two wickets early also made a difference. "They took two wickets in the first two overs and that did the damage. We could have been more aggressive if we wouldn't have lost wickets. We had to ensure we don't lose any more wickets and also score runs," he said.
"We were 10 runs short after six overs but I felt 174 was a good score but Kushal Perera took the game away by playing an amazing knock." Dhawan was the top-scorer for India as he blasted 90 off 49 balls studded with six boundaries and as many sixes.
Talking about his own game, Dhawan said: "I have been playing very aggressive at the start, I know my game and that's how I have been playing. I have been scoring runs at a quick pace." The Delhi batsman, however, was disappointed about missing out on a well-deserved hundred.
"I was disappointed that I couldn't score a century but at that time the team wanted to go after bowling, so I didn't care if I get century or not. I am happy my consistency is going very good and I am enjoying it."
Dhawan said India will look to take the positives in the next game against Bangladesh. "We just lost one game, so it is a not a big deal, we will learn from it and go with all the positives in the next," he said.
Man-of-the-match Perera also felt that the Sri Lanka's power-hitting during the powerplay made all the difference. "We had to attack in the first six overs. As the target was 175, we needed some momentum," Perera said after the match.
"When you get that kind of start, it is easier for the innings to progress smoothly, but you don't get that kind of start every game. The first six overs had a great impact on the match."
First Published: March 7, 2018, 11:55 AM IST