India Women 150 for 6 (Rodrigues 76, Harmanpreet 33, Ranasinghe 3-32) beat Sri Lanka Women 109 (Perera 30, Samarawickrama 26, Hemalatha 3-15, Vastrakar 2-12) by 41 runs
It was a welcome return for Jemimah Rodrigues
to the national side as her T20I career best 76, including a 92-run partnership with captain Harmanpreet Kaur, followed by a stifling show by the bowlers helped India begin their Women's T20 Asia Cup campaign with a 41-run win over Sri Lanka at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium.
India were scoring at under a run-a-ball before Rodrigues and Harmanpreet got together and helped India add 83 in the ten overs after the powerplay. However, with Harmanpreet's fall, India only managed to score 35 runs for the loss of four wickets, bringing back the theme that saw them narrowly miss the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year.
But India's spinners kept the pressure on, especially on the face of an attacking start, to help the runners-up of the 2018 edition come up triumphs.
Rodrigues, Harmanpreet steady the ship
Opting to field, Sri Lanka started with the left-arm-right-arm spin duo of Sugandika Kumari and Oshadi Ranasinghe, much like they did during the home series against India in June. Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana's attempt to break free did not bear fruit as both of them fell holing out inside four overs.
Rodrigues and Harmanpreet took time to get their eye in, with Achini Kulasuriya's first over - the penultimate of the powerplay - going for just one. But Rodrigues began the assault, driving Kumari for two fours in the final over of the fielding restrictions. She then meted out a similar treatment to Kulasuriya in her next before taking two more fours off offspinner Malsha Shehani.
Spinners trigger steady fall
Soon, Rodrigues brought up her eighth half-century in the format following which the pair began shifting gears. However, with the temperature in Sylhet soaring, it got to Harmanpreet, who had to be tended to by the physio - and she was off the field during the chase with Mandhana calling the shots in the middle - and then was stumped off Ranasinghe a ball after she was dropped and parried over for six.
Rodrigues then managed a few hits, including a switch hit off Inoka Ranaweera before a swipe across the line ended her stay in the middle. After that, India's end fizzled away as they added only 16 off the last 14 balls.
Samarawickrama's fluent start
Chasing 151, Harshitha Samawickrama was off to a quick start, taking three fours off the opening over bowled by Renuka Singh, player of the match in India's last ODI at Lord's. She then used her feet well to belt Sneh Rana's offspin back over her head.
Even though Deepti Sharma had managed to work Chamari Athapaththu out and dismiss her, Samarawickrama found an ally in Shehani, who came out all guns blazing. Sri Lanka had raced to 39 for 1 in five overs.
Two run-outs turn the tide
Shehani then tried to steal a quick single by playing the ball with soft hands towards the off side, only for Deepti to swoop in quickly from backward point and fire a direct hit at the bowler's end to catch the batter short. A couple of overs later, Samarawickrama's ball-watching led to a horrible mix-up and resulted in her dismissal.
From 48 for 3, Sri Lanka were reduced to 61 for 5 with Pooja Vastrakar striking twice. Radha then trapped Anushka Sanjeewani lbw before Dayalan Hemalatha picked three quick wickets to hasten the end.
S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo