World champions India relied on a late blitzkrieg by Pathan brothers Yusuf and Irfan to snatch a thrilling three-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the one-off Twenty20 International in Colombo on Tuesday night.
Chasing a stiff target of 172,Irfan (33 not out) and Yusuf (22 not out) scored 59 runs from 25 balls in the tense final moments to steer India home in a pulsating floodlit contest at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
Suresh Raina (35) and Yuvraj Singh (32) were the other notable performers for the visitors as India capped their brief tour of Sri Lanka with a stunning victory in the Twenty20 game in addition to their 4-1 ODI series triumph.
Earlier,captain Tillekaratne Dilshan led from the front,smashing his maiden half century to guide Sri Lanka to 171 for four after he won the toss and elected to bat.
Veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya contributed a quickfire 17-ball 33 in the first Twenty20 match between the two sides.
Disaster struck India just as they began the run chase with both the openers returning to the pavilion at 14 for two after facing just seven balls.
Sehwag (1) was beaten by a Chamara Kapugedera direct throw after Gambhir had played a Malinga delivery on the off-side in the last ball of the first over.
Gambhir fell for 13 in the first ball of the second over while trying to pull Thushara over mid-wicket only to find the top edge snapped by Kaushalya Weeraratne at mid-on.
One-down Raina and Yuvraj played sensibly curbing extravagant shots but hitting odd balls to boundary and at the same time keeping the asking rate well under manageable level.
The left-handed duo revived the Indian innings by sharing an 87-run stand for the third wicket in seven overs before the former was out for 32 off Jehan Mubarak in the ninth over.
Dilshan’s smart change of bowling paid off,with Yuvraj inducing a thick edge to Dilshan while trying to play a cut shot at the back foot. Yuvraj hit three fours and two sixes in his 21-ball innings.
With the required run-rate down to less than eight,Indian batsmen should have saved the wickets but Raina paid the prize of playing an ambitious shot.
After hitting a six off Malinga Bandara,Raina played a similar shot but this time only to hole out to Indika de Saram. He hit five fours and a six in his 27-ball innings. From 81 for 3 when Yuvraj fell,India lost four wickets for the addition of 34 runs with Dhoni (13),Rohit Sharma (4) and debutant Ravindra Jadeja (5) falling in quick succession.
India were virtually out of the match by the 15th over but Yusuf and Irfan never gave up and from 115 for seven,the two brothers took India to victory with four balls remaining.
Irfan,the younger of the two brothers,hit the winning runs,a six off Lasith Malinga to take the visitors to 174 for seven to the wild celebration in the Indian camp.
Yusuf faced 10 balls and hit one four and two stunning sixes in his knock while Irfan consumed 16 balls and struck two fours and as many sixes.
Malinga Bandara,who tormented the Indians midway,was the most successful Lankan bowler with figurers of 3/32 while Thushara and Jayasuriya took one wicket apiece.
Earlier,electing to bat Sri Lanka made a rollicking start with openers Jayasuriya and Dilshan scoring more than 10 runs per over in the first five overs.
But once Jayasuriya was out for 33 in the sixth over off Irfan,Sri Lankan wickets fell at regular intervals and some intelligent bowling by the Indians saw the home team slowing down the pace to just cross the 170-run mark.
Captain Dilshan (61) survived a close call in the very first ball of the innings off Zaheer Khan and five deliveries later he was dropped by Irfan when on zero.
Ishant Sharma was shown scant respect by Jayasuriya who hit the young fast bowler for one four and two huge sixes to take 18 runs in the fourth over.
Sri Lanka were on the top after reaching their fifty in the fifth over with Jayasuriya being the main contributor before the Indians applied the brakes.
First change bowler Irfan broke the dangerous looking opening partnership in the sixth over,dismissing Jayasuriya with Ishant holding on to a one-handed high catch at mid-on to reduce Sri Lanka to 59 for one.
Two quick wickets fell for Sri Lanka in the form of Jehan Mubarak (13) and Chamara Kapugedera (16).
Dilshan,who hit Ishant for a boundary to reach his maiden half century in the 17th over and then followed it up with two more boundaries,fell to the same bowler with Suresh Raina holding on to a skier.
Indian bowlers came back strongly in the death overs and conceded just 19 runs from the last three overs with Ishant giving away just three from the ultimate over.
Yusuf was the most successful bowler,claiming two wickets for 23 runs while Irfan and Ishant took one wicket each for 34 and 40 runs respectively.