Kohli-powered Indians batter shocked Lanka

Cricket Triangular series: Dhonis men stay afloat with super win

Kohli-powered Indians batter shocked Lanka

It took them more than two months, but finally, India’s batsmen showed up in Australia with the kind of batting effort expected of them at the Bellerive Oval on a cold Tuesday.

Needing to score 321 in 40 overs to grab the bonus point essential for them to stay alive in the tri-series, India mounted an extraordinary chase to hunt down the target in 36.4 overs for a seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka. India are now at par with Lanka on 15 points, and will go through to the final if Australia beat Sri Lanka at Melbourne on March 2.

One man stood head and shoulders above the rest – Virat Kohli, who made an unbeaten 133 (86b, 16x4, 2x6). The Delhi lad has been India’s finest batsman and lone centurion on this tour of Australia, and he underscored his status as the brightest prospect of Indian cricket.

Agreed, Kohli has been among the few Indian batsmen who have looked comfortable during this summer, but to come out and bat in a crunch match like he did on the day was quite another thing.

It was a task that demanded a lot of maturity, cool nerves, and aggression of the right kind. Kohli had all those elements in the right mix, propelling him to his ninth one-day hundred.

It’s quite a tough task to pick one shot that stood out because quantity and quality merged sublimely in his innings right from the beginning. But a couple of cover drives off Lasith Malinga that rocketed to the fence were singularly impressive, also signalling Kohli’s immense hold over Sri Lanka’s trustworthy weapon.

Such was the overwhelming effect of Kohli’s hundred that other two centurions of the evening – Tillakaratne Dilshan (160 n.o, 165b, 11x4, 1x6) and Kumar Sangakkara (105, 87b, 8x4, 2x6) – were put to shade comfortably.

The pitch was a beauty to bat on, the Lankan bowlers were off the radar most of the time as evidenced by the 68 runs that Kohli scored through the wide arc between fine-leg and mid-wicket, and their fielding was really sub-standard, but none of these elements should take the sheen away from Kohli’s knock that will be embossed in memory for a long while.

Kohli also had two willing soldiers to aid him in Gautam Gambhir (63, 64b, 4x4) and
Suresh Raina. With his State-mate, Kohli added 115 runs for the third wicket in 18.1 overs that sustained the flow generated by openers Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, who gave some early momentum adding 54 runs in 6.2 overs.

That alliance was not big in nature, but laid a perfect launching pad for the subsequent batsmen, and also convinced them that the pitch had not changed its character.

Sehwag and Tendulkar were dismissed before India reached 100, but Kohli and Gambhir ensured a steady flow of runs without resorting to ungainly ways.

Gambhir did struggle to keep pace with Kohli while running between the wickets that led to a couple of panicky moments, but luck was very much on their side.

From 86 for two, Gambhir and Kohli took India to 201 without much ado, and finally the southpaw got run out as he had been threatening for the whole innings.

The Indian essay had reached the 28th over at the point of Gambhir’s dismissal, and they were still some miles away from home. The sight of Raina (40 n.o., 24b, 3x4, 1x6) walking in wouldn’t have evoked much confidence considering his shoddy form throughout this series.

But for once, the left-hander showed his penchant for big hitting, carting the Lankan bowlers, who surprisingly didn’t attempt to bounce him, around the park.

The Kohli-Raina duo smashed 120 runs in 55 balls for the unbeaten fourth wicket that reached the crescendo in the 31st over bowled by Nuwan Kulasekara.

India needed 90 runs from 60 balls to clinch the bonus point win at that stage, and extracted 22 runs from Kulasekara’s over that changed the equation completely in favour of India.

But the job is only half done, as now India will have to go through a torrid three-day wait to know their fate.

SCORE BOARD

SRI LANKA

Jayawardene c Sehwag b Jadeja    22
(33b, 1x4, 1x6)
Dilshan (not out)    160
(165b, 11x4, 1x6)
Sangakkara b Praveen    105
(87b, 8x4, 2x6)
Perera (run out)    3
(3b)
Mathews c Ashwin b Zaheer    14
(10b, 1x4)
Chandimal (not out)    2
(2b)

Extras (LB-3, W-11)    14

Total (for 4 wkts, 50 overs)    320

Fall of wickets: 1-49 (Jayawardene), 2-249 (Sangakkara), 3-279 (Perera), 4-309 (Mathews).

Bowling: Zaheer 9-0-61-1 (w-5), Praveen 9-0-64-1 (w-6), Yadav 8-0-56-0, Jadeja 9-0-43-1, Ashwin 10-0-52-0, Sehwag 3-0-24-0, Raina 2-0-17-0.

Scoring pattern: 5 overs: 21/0; 10: 49/0; 20: 95/1; 30: 137/1; 40: 215/1; end of innings: 320/4 in 50 overs.

Runs during Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 41/0; Power Play 2: 16-20 overs: 22/0; Power Play 3: 33-37 overs: 41/0.

INDIA

Sehwag c Dilshan b Maharoof    30
(16b, 5x4, 1x6)
Tendulkar lbw Malinga    39
(30b, 5x4)
Gambhir (run out)    63
(64b, 4x4)
Kohli (not out)    133
(86b, 16x4, 2x6)
Raina (not out)    40
(24b, 3x4, 1x6)

Extras (B-4, LB-6, W-6)    16

Total (for 3 wkts, 36.4 overs)    321

Fall of wickets: 1-54 (Sehwag), 2-86 (Tendulkar), 3-201 (Gambhir).

Bowling: Malinga 7.4-0-96-1 (w-2), Kulasekara 8-0-71-0 (w-2), Maharoof 3-0-21-1, Perera 7-0-59-0 (w-1), Mathews 7-0-44-0, Herath 4-0-20-0 (w-1).

Scoring pattern: 5 overs: 48/0; 10: 97/2; 20: 160/2; 30: 230/3; end of innings: 321/3 in 36.4 overs.

Runs during Power Play 1: 1-10 overs: 97/2; Power Play 2: 28-32 overs: 58/1; Power Play 3: 33-37 overs: 64/0.

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