MS Dhoni has said one of the reasons for the 29-run run defeat to Sri Lanka in Nagpur was because India tended to take Twenty20 internationals as a "warm-up for the one-dayers to follow". India have now lost seven of their last ten Twenty20s and two of their three wins were against Bangladesh and Ireland.
"I don't think we were in the groove for a Twenty20 game and too often we treat it as a warm-up for the one-dayers to follow," Dhoni said. "It's probably the reason for our defeats in these games."
Another, and more significant, reason for Wednesday's defeat was India's terrible fielding. They dropped five chances - two off the Sri Lankan openers before they made a start - and frequently fumbled balls in the outfield. Yuvraj dropped Sanath Jayasuriya on 4, Ishant grassed Tillakaratne Dilshan on 13 and Kumar Sangakkara as well, Rohit Sharma let off Chamara Kapugedera on 14, and Pragyan Ojha failed to reach a tough chance given by Angelo Mathews in the final over after which the batsman hit two sixes.
"The catching is a bit of concern," Dhoni said. "We are not a brilliant fielding side, but we don't drop too many catches. That also hurt us also to some extent."
Had India taken their chances, Sri Lanka would have struggled to reach 215. In the over after he was dropped, Jayasuriya hit Ashish Nehra for five consecutive boundaries and provided the acceleration after a slow start. The opening stand of 43 set the platform for Kumar Sangakkara to score 78 off just 37 deliveries. Kapugedera provided propulsion by scoring 47 off 20 while Mathews made 15 off four balls.
"What really set us up was the two openers batting for six overs, even if they didn't get a flying start," Sangakkara said. "They really applied themselves and got those 40-odd runs and we could launch our innings from there. I've been in good form, but I've been getting out cheaply because I've never really applied myself. I thought it was about time I really did something to inspire the side."
Sangakkara also described Jayasuriya's four-over spell during India's chase as "magic". Jayasuriya came on after India had raced to 88 in seven overs and brought down the scoring-rate dramatically. He conceded only 19 off his four overs and also took the wickets of MS Dhoni and Yusuf Pathan. Sri Lanka's bowlers were also supported by far superior fielding effort and Sangakkara acknowledged as much.
"I thought the fielding was outstanding, we were excellent in the first 16 overs and I thought we could have been a little more ruthless in the final four overs and finished the game off," he said. "Overall, everyone played really hard and they showed a lot of hunger to win."
The second Twenty20 game is in Mohali on December 12.