Debutant Kasun Rajitha picked up three crucial wickets to help a depleted Sri Lanka stun the top-ranked Indians by clinching a five-wicket win in the first Twenty20 international in Pune Tuesday.
Belying their status as underdogs, the inexperienced Sri Lankan pace attack skittled out their hosts for a paltry 101 in 18.5 overs, India's third lowest score in T20 cricket.
After Rajitha took the wickets of India's first three batsman, Dasun Shanaka bagged three other top order scalps on a bouncy wicket in Pune, helped by some poor selection by the hosts.
Sri Lanka made hard work at times of meeting their target, losing five wickets during the chase, but the Dinesh Chandimal-led side eventually eased home with two overs to spare.
Regular T20 skipper Lasith Malinga, Test captain Angelo Mathews and premier spinner Rangana Herath have all stayed at home as they try to shake off niggles before Sri Lanka begin their defence of the Asia Cup later this month and then return to India for the World T20.
But their stand-ins soon showed they would not be overwhelmed by a capacity crowd at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium after winning the toss and electing to bowl.
The 22-year-old Rajitha made his presence felt right away with a double strike in his first over in international cricket. In-form Rohit Sharma was the first to go, caught by Dushmantha Chameera off only the second delivery and Ajinkya Rahane (4) followed soon after.
Rajitha nearly got his third wicket in his next over, only to see Danushka Gunathilaka spill a sitter at third man to give Suresh Raina a life. His disappointment was short-lived as Shikhar Dhawan was caught by Gunathilaka for just nine.
Raina made little use of his reprieve and he was cleaned up by Shanaka in the ninth over for 20 as the wickets tumbled with alarming regularity.
"They (Rajitha and Shanaka) were exceptional. They hit the right length from the start," said batsman Chamara Kapugedra, one of the Sri Lanka side's few old hands.
"We always knew we were the underdogs but knew if we played to our full potential we had a chance," he told the Star Sports television network.
India should have been full of confidence after their recent 3-0 T20 away series win over Australia, which secured their place at the top of the rankings but none of their batsmen showed any kind of form.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who made just two before being caught behind off Shanaka, admitted that the team had failed to adapt to the conditions and some of their shots had been rash.
"It was a lot different to what we faced in Australia. After the game, we will talk about the shot selection," said Dhoni.
After Dhoni's dismissal, the big-hitting left-hander Yuvraj Singh (10) was the next to go when Chameera had him caught and bowled in the tenth over.
A cameo of 31 by spinner Ravichandran Ashwin enabled India to edge past the three-figure mark but it was never likely to be enough.
Indian pace spearhead Ashish Nehra gave the fans something to cheer about with the early wickets of openers Gunathilaka and Niroshan Dickwella.
But, showing much more application than their hosts, Chandimal and Chamara Kapugedera then compiled a 39-run third wicket stand that effectively put the outcome beyond doubt.
After their partnership was broken, Milinda Siriwardana also weighed in with an unbeaten 21 to give the visitors a dream start to the series.
R. Sharma c Chameera b Rajitha 0
S. Dhawan c Gunathilaka b Rajitha 9
A. Rahane c Chandimal b Rajitha 4
S. Raina b Shanaka 20
Y. Singh c & b Chameera 10
M.S. Dhoni c Dickwella b Shanaka 2
H. Pandya lbw b Shanaka 2
R. Jadeja lbw b Senanayake 6
R. Ashwin not out 31
A. Nehra c Siriwardana b Chameera 6
J. Bumrah run out 0
Extras (b 2, lb 1, w 8) 11
Total (all out; 18.5 overs) 101
Fall of wickets 1-0 (Sharma), 2-5 (Rahane), 3-32 (Dhawan), 4-49 (Raina), 5-51 (Dhoni), 6-53 (Yuvraj), 7-58 (Pandya), 8-72 (Jadeja), 9-100 (Nehra), 10-101 (Bumrah)
Bowling: Rajitha 4-0-29-3, Perera 3-1-10-0, Senanayake 3-0-18-1, Chameera 3.5-0-14-2, Shanaka 3-0-16-3, Prasanna 2-0-11-0
N. Diwckwella c Dhawan b Nehra 4
M. Gunathilaka c Dhawan b Nehra 9
D. Chandimal lbw b Raina 35
C. Kapugedara lbw b Ashwin 25
M. Siriwardana not out 21
D. Shanaka c Raina b Ashwin 3
S. Prasanna not out 3
Extras (lb 3, w 2) 5
Total (5 wickets; 18 overs) 105
Fall of wickets: 1-4 (Dickwella), 2-23 (Gunathilaka), 3-62 (Kapugedara), 4-84 (Chandimal), 91-5 (Shanaka)
Bowling: Nehra 3-0-21-2, Bumrah 4-1-19-0, Jadeja 3-0-18-0, Pandya 3-0-18-0, Ashwin 3-0-13-2, Raina 2-0-13-1
Result: Sri Lanka won by five wickets
Toss: Sri Lanka
Umpires: Vineet Kulkarni (IND), CK Nandan (IND)
TV umpire: Anil Chaudhary (IND)
Match referee: Jeff Crowe (NZL)
Three wickets from Kasun Rajitha, Dasun Shanaka and two from Dushmanta Chameera helped Sri Lanka bowl India out for 101 and then Dinesh Chandimal (35), Chamara Kapugedera (25) and Milinda Siriwardena (21) ensured the visitors overcame some initial hiccups to win the match with 12 balls to spare and take a 1-0 lead in the three T20 Internationals.
Dasun Shanaka c Raina b Ashwin 3 (8b 0x4 0x6)
Raina was hoisted for a six the previous ball but got his revenge.
Dinesh Chandimal lbw b Raina 35 (35b 1x4 2x6)
Ashwin strikes in his first over. Lanka 62-3.
Chamara Kapugedera lbw b Ashwin 25 (26b 4x4 0x6)
Nehra strikes again forcing Gunathilaka to give Dhawan an easy catch at mid-on. Lanka 23-2, 4.3 overs.
Danushka Gunathilaka c Dhawan b Nehra 9 (18b 0x4 1x6)
Gunathilaka releases the pressure by hooking Nehra over the fence.
Nehra, hit for a four the previous delivery, strikes back as Dickwella tries to pull him from the off side to hand Dhawan an easy catch at mid-on..
Niloshan Dickwella c Dhawan b Nehra 4 (3b 1x4 0x6)
Three wickets from Kasun Rajitha, Dasun Shanaka and two by Dushmanta Chameera helped Sri Lanka bowl India out for 101 in the first T20 match at the MCA Stadium, in Pune on Tuesday.
Ravichandran Ashwin was India's top scorer with an unbeaten 31.
Jasprit Bumrah run out 0 (0b 0x4 0x6)
Nehra goes for a wild heave and top edges. Ind 100-9, 18 overs.
A Nehra c Siriwardana b Chameera 6
Rajitha finishes with an impressive spell of 4-0-29-3 on debut. Ind 90-8, 17 overs.
Jadeja fails to read this one from Senanayake and is plumb. Ind 78-8, 14 overs.
Ravindra Jadeja lbw b Senanayake 6 (9b 0x4 0x6)
Chanaka bags his third wicket trapping Pandya. Ind 58-7, 11 overs.
Hardik Pandya lbw b Shanaka 2 (6b 0x4 0x6)
Chameera surprises Yuvraj with a quicker delivery and he top-edges it back to the bowler. Ind 54-6, 10 overs.
Yuvraj Singh c & b Chameera 10 (14b 0x4 1x6)
Shanaka has put Sri Lanka in the driver's seat. Ind 51-5, 9 overs.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni c Dickwella b Shanaka 2 (2b 0x4 0x6)
Raina survived the previous ball when he was dropped by Siriwardena but next ball is cleaned up. Ind 49-4.
Suresh Raina b Shanaka 20 (20b 1x4 1x6)
Runs are drying up for India. Ind 47-3, 8 overs.
Yuvraj pulls the second ball he faces over Senanayake's head for a six.
Rajitha is on fire claiming his third wicket and this time it's Dhawan who mistimes his pull shot and Gunathilaka makes no mistake this time. Ind 32-3, 5 overs
Shikhar Dhawan c Gunathilaka b Rajitha 9 (13b 0x4 1x6)
Raina defends a bouncer and luckily for him it goes for a four and next delivery hoists Rajitha over mid-wicket for a six.
Dhawan takes some pressure off Raina by hitting Perera for a six.
Rajitha unlucky as Raina is dropped by Dhanushka Gunathilaka on the boundary. That was a sitter and could have spelt doom for India.
Dream debut for Dasun Rajitha and India are in trouble here as Rahane fails to read this quick one from Rajitha and Chandimal takes a full length diving catch. Ind 5-2, 1 over.
Ajinkya Rahane c Chandimal b Rajitha 4 (4b 1x4 0x6)
An rising ball from the tall the debutant Kasun Rajitha, just his second ball in international cricket, and Rohit Sharma holes it out to Chameera at mid off.
Rohit Sharma c Chameera b Rajitha 0 (2b 0x4 0x6)
India make one change from the team that played in Australia. Ajinkya Rahane comes in for Virat Kohli.
For Sri Lanka Niroshan Dickwella and Kasun Rajitha will be making their debut.
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra.
Sri Lanka: Danushka Gunathilaka, Niroshan Dickwella, Lahiru Chandimal, Seekuge Prasanna, Milinda Siriwardana, Chamara Kapugedera, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Sachithra Senanayake, Kasun Rajitha, Dushmanta Chameera.
India will look to cement their number one status when they begin a three-match series against Sri Lanka Tuesday, their final work-out on home soil before hosting the World Twenty20.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's side vaulted seven places in the T20 rankings after their recent 3-0 away series victory against Australia and will look to build on their momentum when they face the Graham Ford-coached Sri Lanka.
[Video] Suresh Raina relives the thrilling chase in AusvInd 3ODI
The series is Ford's first assignment since returning for a second stint in charge of the islanders last week.
After a relatively disappointing tour of Australia, India's spin king Ravichandran Ashwin will look to the series as an opportunity to get back in the groove ahead of the Asia Cup which is being held in Bangladesh ahead of the World T20.
Ashwin, the world's top spinner in Test cricket, was outshone Down Under by Ravindra Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah but the conditions back home are expected to suit him well.
Dhoni is a big fan of the lanky off-spinnner and told reporters last month that Ashwin's dip in form was due in part to the side's increasing reliance on him in all formats.
"He just makes my job slightly easy, especially for a consistent period of time when my fast bowlers have not done well," Dhoni said in Australia.
"It is good to have him and I think he is a great asset to the side irrespective of the format."
Star batsman Virat Kohli has been rested but India's other big names are set to feature against Sri Lanka, who are the reigning World T20 champions and could leapfrog their hosts in the rankings if they pull off a surprise victory.
Kohli has been replaced by Manish Pandey who struck a century in the last of the ODIs in Australia but failed to make the cut for the World T20 squad that was announced on Friday.
The series could see the young Delhi all-rounder Pawan Negi handed a debut after he was surprisingly picked in the 15-man World T20 squad.
[Video] Team India sweating out in the nets ahead of the 1st T20I against Sri Lanka
While India carry a familiar look, Sri Lanka have been forced to field a depleted side with a number of their top players staying at home.
The likes of regular T20 skipper Lasith Malinga, Test captain Angelo Mathews and premier spinner Rangana Herath are racing against time to get fit for the World T20.
Having been recently outplayed by New Zealand in the recent Test, ODI and T20 series, Sri Lanka will also be without the services of veteran batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan, who will miss the first game with a hand injury.
Ford, who also coached the islanders from 2012-14, has called for patience as Sri Lanka embark on a rebuilding phase.
"I think Sri Lanka cricket finds itself in the very early stages of a very important rebuilding stage. A lot of hard work needs to be done," the South African said last week.
The two teams will face each other on February 9 (Pune), February 12 (Ranchi) and February 14 (Visakhapatnam).
India: MS Dhoni (capt), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Pawan Negi.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Seekkuge Prasanna, Milinda Siriwardana, Danushka Gunathilaka, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Asela Gunaratne, Chamara Kapugedera, Dushmantha Chameera, Dilhara Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Binura Fernando, Sachithra Senanayake, Jeffrey Vandersay.