Sri Lanka progressed steadily on a track promising plenty of runs, with their openers Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan putting together a solid stand of 91. Dilshan was the more fluent of the two, but Tharanga caught up, and even though the run-rate at the halfway stage remained under five an over with that pair dismissed, a line-up that bats deep and an India attack prone to misfiring at the death meant an imposing target was a strong possibility.
The only sign of assistance for the India seamers, after Sri Lanka chose to bat, was some initial movement. Zaheer Khan tried to move it away, Irfan Pathan occasionally got the ball to bend in. They beat the bat, hits and misses, inside edges both thick and thin, giving the batsmen some anxious moments but there were enough opportunities to score. Dilshan was quick to open up, driving and cutting Zaheer for boundaries and delicately glancing Irfan towards fine leg when his inswing missed its intended target. There was no movement for Ashok Dinda, who came on first change, and Dilshan comfortably drove him on the up in his first over.
Sri Lanka's first six boundaries all came from Dilshan; Tharanga, at the other end, was struggling to middle the ball and, on 9 off 26 balls at one stage, was increasingly getting impatient. A pitched-up delivery from Irfan got him going as he drove through cover, followed by a top-edged six off Dinda as he went for the pull.
Sri Lanka opted for the batting Powerplay in the 16th over, presumably hoping to eat in to Zaheer's quota of overs so that India's best bowler didn't have to bowl at the death - India, surprisingly, left out legspinner Rahul Sharma to make way for Manoj Tiwary. As it turned out, Zaheer went for runs, clipped by Dilshan past fine leg and then guided and pulled by Tharanga in an over costing 13.
The pair was well set when Dilshan top-edged Dinda to be caught by MS Dhoni. Tharanga reached his half-century shortly after but, having taken 35 off the batting Powerplay, was keen to maintain the tempo in the bowling Powerplay that followed. He charged out to R Ashwin, swung but missed a straight delivery, to be stumped. Though they lost their openers in quick succession, the rest of Sri Lanka's batting line-up had a strong base to build on.