Match report: SL v Ind – 1st ODI
Hambantota, Jul 21: India began their tour of Sri Lanka on a winning note as they trounced the hosts in the first of the five-match ODI series. After Virat Kohli’s 113-ball 106 helped the visitors post a mammoth score of 314, the Indian bowlers kept the Sri Lankans in check despite a sparkling Kumar Sangakkara ton to register a 21-run victory.
Earlier, India captain, MS Dhoni, won the toss and opted to bat first at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium. It was a patchy start by the visitors, who despite having Virender Sehwag dropped by Tillakaratne Dilshan in the second over, lost Gautam Gambhir (3) when Nuwan Kulasekara bowled him around his legs.
Sehwag and Virat Kohli, nonetheless, revived the Indian innings after Gambhir’s wicket. The two batsmen added 173 for the second wicket, which saw the visitors bring up the 150-run mark in the 28th over of the innings. Both batsmen used their feet regularly to the Sri Lankan spinners (Dilshan and Herath) and regularly brought out the cut shot to punish anything that was short outside the off stump.
Sehwag, unfortunately, was run-out four short of what would have been his fifth ODI hundred in Sri Lanka. The Indian opener was involved in a mix-up with Kohli in the 32nd over that saw Thisara Perera knock down the stumps off a direct hit at the non-striker’s end.
Rohit Sharma (5) was bowled by Angelo Mathews shortly after Sehwag’s dismissal to rob the visitors of some momentum with the scoreboard reading 191 for three at the end of 34 overs. Kohli, nonetheless, didn’t allow the hosts to get on top as he brought up his fourth ODI hundred in five innings in the 38th over of the Indian innings.
India lost Kohli (106) in the 40th over when the 23-year-old batsman tried to flay Perera through the covers, but only ended up holing out to substitute SM Senanayake at extra cover. Suresh Raina (50 off 45) and MS Dhoni (35 off 29), as they have done several times before, then gave the visitors the perfect finish as they added 79 runs for the fifth wicket in 9.1 overs to take India’s score to 314 for six in 50 overs. For Sri Lanka, Perera finished with figures of three for 70 in his 10 overs.
Chasing 315 to win, Tillakaratne Dilshan enjoyed a life when he was dropped by Sehwag, standing at first slip, off Zaheer Khan’s bowling in the first over. However, Irfan Pathan robbed Dilshan (6) the chance to make the most of the missed opportunity when he had the Sri Lankan trapped lbw in the second over itself.
Upul Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara then steadied the hosts’ innings with a 77-run stand. However, with the Indian bowlers bowling a steady line the Sri Lanka batsmen were never really allowed to keep up with the required run-rate.
Tharanga (28) was eventually dismissed by R Ashwin in the 19th over. The hosts then entered a passage of play where they lost wickets at regular intervals even with Sangakkara holding one end up. Sangakkara brought up his century in the 39th over, but with Sri Lanka having lost six wickets and still needing 118 to win from the last 11 overs, the game seemed to be very much within India’s grasp.
It was at this stage that Thisara Perera joined Sangakkara and the two batsmen set about smashing the Indian bowlers in the hope of pulling off an unlikely win. Pragyan Ojha was hit for 15 in the 42nd over while Zaheer Khan was carted for 14 in the 45th.
Pacer Umesh Yadav, however, brought an end to the feisty 78-run stand between the two batsmen in the 48th over when he knocked over Sangakkara (133). Two deliveries later, Rangana Herath (0) was run-out thanks to a direct hit from the deep by Suresh Raina.
The Indians ultimately kept Sri Lanka down to 293, 21 short of the target. Irfan Pathan, R Ashwin and Umesh Yadav finished with two wickets each, though Pathan’s figures of 10-1-37-2 stood out among the three.
Brief scores: India 314/6 in 50.0 overs (Virat Kohli 106, Virender Sehwag 96, Suresh Raina 50, Thisara Perera 3/70) beat Sri Lanka 293/9 in 50.0 overs (Kumar Sangakkara 133, Thisara Perera 44, R Ashwin 2/46, Irfan Pathan 2/37) by 21 runs
Man-of-the-match: Virat Kohli for his 106-run innings which helped India set a daunting total of 314 on the board.