Thisara Perera sets up Sri Lanka win over England in first T20
London: Thisara Perera starred with both bat and ball as Sri Lanka gained revenge for their World Twenty20 defeat by England with a nine-run win at The Oval on Tuesday.
Man-of-the-match Perera made a rapid 49 in World Twenty20 champions Sri Lanka's 183 for seven and then captured the important wicket of England captain Eoin Morgan under the floodlights in this day/night clash.
On their way to winning this year's World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka suffered a six-wicket loss to England in the group stage in March that saw Alex Hales become the first England batsman to score a Twenty20 international hundred.
But in this floodlit Twenty20 his 66, albeit off 41 balls with seven fours and two sixes, was not enough to take England to victory.
Dropped catches cost England dear in an innings where Sri Lanka, led by Perera, smashed 75 off the last six overs.
"I am pleased with my batting performance," Perera said at the presentation ceremony.
"It was a good batting track and we gave ourselves a good target to bowl at. It was good to get Eoin Morgan out, everyone knows he can hit every ball to the boundary so I'm really happy with that wicket."
Morgan, leading the side in the absence of the injured Stuart Broad, bemoaned his side's fielding lapses while paying tribute to Sri Lanka captain Lasith Malinga, who justified his reputation as the world's leading Twenty20 bowler with three for 28.
"It is devastating to lose -- in the first 15 overs we bowled well and fielded well but in the final five overs it fell away," said Morgan.
"We have no excuses -- they were perfect fielding conditions and we have dropped three catches, that is inexcusable," the former Ireland batsman added.
"Lasith Malinga is world-class, we have come up against him many times and he normally comes out on top."
England saw opener Michael Carberry, making his Twenty20 international debut, Ian Bell, playing his first match at this level for three years, Joe Root and Morgan all fall cheaply as Hales looked on from the other end.
The big-hitting Nottinghamshire opener kept going until he was clean bowled by 'slingshot' seamer Malinga, hitting across the line, England were then 139 for six in the 17th over.
And a target of 24 off the last over, bowled by Suranga Lakmal, proved too much for Ravi Bopara, who finished on 28 not out.
Sri Lanka, after losing the toss in overcast conditions, saw both openers depart with the score on 24.
Nottinghamshire left-arm paceman Harry Gurney needed just four balls of his Twenty20 international debut to take a wicket.
Gurney bowled Tillakaratne Dilshan (14) with a fine delivery that clipped the top of off-stump and went on to lead the attack with impressive figures of two for 26 from four overs.
Dilshan's fellow opener Kusal Perera (10) exited when he clipped Chris Jordan straight to Bopara at short fine leg.
Left-handers Kithuruwan Vithanage (38) and Lahiru Thirimanne (40) repaired the damage with a third-wicket stand of 54.
England's most damaging dropped catch saw Thisara Perera put down on 20 by Carberry as Morgan also converged on a skyer.
Perera's reprieve proved particularly costly for seamer Jordan, who saw the big-hitting left-hander smash his final four deliveries for 22 runs.
Thisara Perera was run out by Gurney off the last ball of the innings, having faced just 20 balls with seven fours and two sixes.
England and Sri Lanka return to The Oval on Thursday for the first of five one-day internationals, with the teams also playing a two-Test series in June.