Colombo: Virat Kohli’s dream run in ODIs continued as his brilliant century guided India to a comfortable six-wicket victory in the fourth one-dayer against Sri Lanka, thereby clinching the five-match series 3-1, here on Tuesday. This was India’s 400th ODI victory.
Courtesy’s Kohli’s 119-ball 128 and his partnership of 146 runs with another in-form batsman Suresh Raina (58), India reached the 252-run target in 42.2 overs at the R Premadasa stadium.
This is Kohli’s 13th century in his 89th ODI appearance, a feat still unattained by any other batsman in ODI history.
The Delhi batsman, on his way to another three-digit figure, also completed quickest 1000 runs in a calendar year with a whopping average of 77.15. He has now scored his fifth century in last eight matches.
It was Raina who scored the winning run with a hit over extra cover off Tillekaratne Dilshan as India reached 255 for four. His 51-ball 58 was his 24th half century and eighth against Sri Lanka.
Both Kohli and Raina blunted Sri Lanka’s spin attack and batted beautifully. Raina may not have as prolific numbers as Kohli but batting at number 5 and 6, he has more than pulled his weight.
India were off to a poor start as pacer Lasith Malinga struck in his first over to bowl out Gautam Gambhir (0).
Virender Sehwag along with Kohli put the Indian chase back on track with a 50-run stand for the second wicket but Angelo Mathews got rid of the opener in the 10th over to somewhat derail visitors’ chase.
Mathews got Sehwag caught by substitute Senanayake after his fighting knock of 34.
Rohit Sharma’s horrible form with the bat continued as Nuwan Pradeep got him for just four. India were left reeling at 60 for three after 13 overs.It was then left to Kohli and Manoj Tiwary to steady the Indian ship as the duo put on 49-run for the fourth wicket under pressure.
However, Tiwary did not last long as he became the victim of leg-spinner Jeevan Mendis. The ball pitched middle and went straight on as Tiwary missed the sweep and found himself in line with off and middle stump.
Kohli again came good with the bat as he scored a fine half-century with a drive towards cover off Mendis. The youngster in the company of Suresh Raina, again started the process of rebuilding the innings from scratch and mixed caution with agression to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Both went on offensive as the required run-rate came down and pummelled the Sri Lankan bowling attack. Kohli hit pacer Thisara Perera for a delightful straight six and a four before reaching his century with a lovely pull-shot towards the fine-leg region off Malinga.
Earlier, after being benched for 14 consecutive matches, Tiwary made an impressive comeback into the playing XI, grabbing a career-best four for 61 to restrict Sri Lanka to 251 for eight.
It was Tiwary whose effective leg-breaks accounted for Dinesh Chandimal (28), Angelo Mathews (14), Jeevan Mendis (17) and Thisara Perera (2) as he knocked the stuffing out of Sri Lankan middle-order after Tillekaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga added 91 runs for the opening stand.
Sri Lanka’s batsmen didn’t take enough singles in the middle period, getting bogged down against India's part-timers, and eventually they ended on a score which was too small to challenge a lengthy Indian batting line-up.
Tiwary, who regularly bowls a few overs for Bengal in the domestic circuit was not afraid to flight the ball and also got a bit of turn.
The gamble of playing Tiwary as a leg-spinning all-rounder in place of Rahul Sharma worked well for Dhoni although he got a bit of stick in the final over, being hit for a couple of sixes and a four by Herath (17 not out) and Malinga (15 not out), who added 32 runs in the final three overs.