Put into bat, cameos from Rodrigues, Bhatia, Anuja Patil and Veda Krishnamurthy took India to 166 for 8 in 20 overs. In reply, Eshani Lokusuriyage (31-ball 45) fought hard but got no support from the middle-order as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 155 in 19.3 overs.
India got off to a worst possible start losing in-form Smriti Mandhana for a first-ball duck in the very first over. However, there was no stepping back from No. 3 Rodrigues, as the 18-year-old came out all guns blazing and smoked Sri Lankan bowlers all around the park. The right-hander smashed three fours and as many maximums in her 15-ball 36 before falling to Chamari Athapaththu (2 for 23).
India also lost Mithali Raj (17) and captain Harmanpreet Kaur (0) inside six overs, with the scoreboard reading 75 for 4 by the end of Powerplay.
Despite scoring over 12 runs per over, India lost way too many wickets and they needed someone to consolidate. That's when Bhatia and Patil chipped in with a 67-run stand for the fifth wicket. While Patil took the back seat, Bhatia played her natural game, hitting six fours and a six in her 35-ball 46. The partnership was finally broken by Nilakshi de Silva (1 for 37) in the 17th over when she got rid of Bhatia. Patil followed soon after, falling to Shashikala Siriwardene (1 for 19) for 29-ball 34.
Coming in at No. 7, Krishnamurthy smashed an unbeaten 21 off 15 to give her team some late surge.
In response, Yasoda Mendis and skipper Athapaththu gave Sri Lanka a flying start. Mendis, in particular, was the aggressor, smacking 12-ball 32, studded with five fours and two sixes. It was debutant Arundhati Reddy who provided India their first breakthrough before Yadav took over.
The 27-year-old outfoxed Athapaththu (27), Rebeca Vandort (7), Shashikala Siriwardene (4) and Sripali Weerakkody (1) as Sri Lanka were reduced to 117 for 7. Despite wickets falling at the other end, Lokusuriyage kept Sri Lanka in the hunt and found decent support from Kavisha Dilhari (11). The two added 24 runs for the eighth wicket before Dilhari was stumped off Kaur's (2 for 19) bowling. However, Lokusuriyage blasted Kaur's last ball of the 18th over for a six to bring the equation down to 16 off 12.
Left-arm spinner Radha Yadav (2 for 15) bowled a match-winning penultimate over, giving away just three runs, plus a wicket of Sri Lanka's only hope Lokusuriyage. Then Kaur knocked over No. 11 Sugandika Kumari to get the job done for her team.
The second T20I will be played at the Colts Cricket Club Ground in Colombo on Friday.
First Published: September 19, 2018, 1:48 PM IST