Colombo: India warmed up for the ICC World Twenty20 starting September 18 with a comfortable 26-run win over hosts Sri Lanka at the P Sara Oval on Tuesday, but the victory was overshadowed by an injury to Gautam Gambhir that sent him to a local hospital.
Batting on 5, the left-handed opener was struck on the wrist by a sharp delivery from Lasith Malinga. Wincing in pain, Gambhir was given medical attention before leaving the field.
The wicket was followed by a brief flurry from Virender Sehwag and Suresh Raina, but Sri Lanka’s bowlers hit back with four wickets in the space of just 23 runs. Nuwan Kulasekara made the first inroads with the wickets of Sehwag (12) and Raina (13) in the fifth over, after which Angelo Mathews extracted Virat Kohli for 8. Yuvraj Singh, who made an emotional return to international cricket New Zealand this week, was the next to go for 11, stumped off Rangana Herath’s left-arm spin.
At 51 for 4 India were in trouble but MS Dhoni combined with Rohit Sharma (37 off 26 balls) to revive the innings with a 78-run alliance. Dhoni's unbeaten 42-ball 55, including four fours and three sixes, was the highest score of the innings and proved crucial.
Then it was over to Irfan Pathan, who made inroads at either end of the Sri Lankan innings. Dilshan Munaweera was accounted for in the first over of the chase, bowled for 3, and with the last ball of his second over Irfan had Tillakaratne Dilshan giving Dhoni the first of his three catches behind the stumps. A 30-run stand between Mathews (16) and Kumar Sangakkara (32) followed, but that was snapped before it could blossom as L Balaji struck in the sixth over to have Mathews caught behind.
Sangakkara was next to fall, bowled by comeback man Harbhajan Singh. Harbhajan’s miserly spell of 1 for 17 in four overs helped put the screws on Sri Lanka, who struggled to form partnerships. Lahiru Thirimanne (24) and Jeevan Mendis (26) got starts but failed to accelerate, as Zaheer Khan struck and Irfan returned and grabbed three wickets in a fantastic 19th over.
Thissara Perera, Mahela Jayawardene and Mendis were the men to fall in the space of four deliveries, leaving Sri Lanka at 120 for 8 and Irfan with figures of 5 for 25. Balaji finished off the innings with two wickets in three balls to finish with 3 for 28.
India’s second warm-up against on Monday against Pakistan. The 2007 World Twenty20 champions open their campaign on September 19 against Afghanistan at the Premadasa.