Deepti Sharma and Jemimah Rodrigues starred as India defeated Sri Lanka by 34 runs in the first T20 International of the three-match series in Dambulla on Thursday.

Opting to bat first, India posted a total of 138/6 thanks to Rodrigues (36* off 27) and Sharma (17* off 8) before restricting the hosts to 104/5 in their 20 overs.

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India didn’t get off to the best start with the bat as opener Smriti Mandhana (1 off 6) and Sabbhineni Meghana, in at No 3, was dismissed for a duck in the fourth over.

Shafali Verma (31 off 31) and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (22 off 20) then added a 39-run partnership for the third wicket but just as the visitors were starting to find some rhythm in their innings, both batters were dismissed in a span of five deliveries.

It then came down to a late partnership between Rodrigues and Sharma to guide India to a respectable total. The duo scored 20 runs in the last over and that proved to be crucial at the end of the match.

In reply, Sri Lanka kept losing wickets at regular intervals and were never on top in the chase.

Sharma took the new ball and dismissed Vishmi Gunaratne in her first over. Then, in the seventh over, Radha Yadav removed Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu and vice-captain Harshitha Madavi in a span of three deliveries. And once again, Sharma was in on the act and took a blinder to help dismiss Madavi.

Kavisha Dilhari, in at No 4, made an unbeaten 47 off 49 but didn’t get much support. Verma and Pooja Vastrakar were the other wicket-takers as India managed to get their nose ahead in the series.

Rodrigues, for her crucial knock, was declared the player of the match.

The second T20I will be played at the same venue on Saturday.