A win and a ray of hope

India thrash SL, signal readiness for IPL-5

Not till the final innings of the league phase of the triangular series – perhaps even their final innings of what has been a singularly disappointing tour – did India’s vaunted batting line-up flex its muscles.

victory leap: Virat Kohli celebrates his century as India beat Sri Lanka in an ODI in Hobart, Australia, on Tuesday. AP

But when the top-order did find its range, boy, did it fire! An incredible run-chase, shaped by the incandescence of Virat Kohli and complemented by the controlled fire of Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina, with help from Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, left a high-flying Sri Lanka in tatters at the Bellerive Oval on Tuesday.

By scaling down 321 well inside 40 overs, India secured the bonus point that has left them tied with Sri Lanka on 15 points. India have an anxious three-day wait, because anything less than defeat for the Lankans at the hands of Australia on Friday will eliminate the World Cup winners.

It will be premature to label Tuesday’s heroics as having come in a losing cause – after all, not only did India canter to a seven-wicket win, but their tournament prospects also are very much alive now.  The national team’s next outing is the Asia Cup in Bangladesh in the second week of March, but very quickly, all eyes will turn towards season five of the IPL, beginning April 4.

All summer long in Australia, India have struggled to do justice to their reputation of being the best batting unit in the world. Tuesday’s pyrotechnics should at least restore confidence in the batting line-up, at least from the perspective of the IPL franchises.

Kohli, the top run-getter in the tri-series, will gladden RCB, while Kolkata Knight Riders can take heart from their skipper Gautam Gambhir’s sustained good run in the competition. Kohli himself gave the game away when he said India had approached Tuesday’s 40-over target as two Twenty20 games. Ideal preparation for the IPL, did anyone say?!

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