| Virat Kohli and Ashok Dinda, on Tuesday
Pallekele: Virat Kohli’s fine half-century and Irfan Pathan’s opening spell helped India beat Sri Lanka by 39 runs in the one-off Twenty20 International played here on Tuesday.
Riding on Kohli’s well-crafted 68, India managed to put up a respectable 155 for three. In reply, Sri Lanka were bundled out for 116 in 18 overs, largely due to Pathan (3/27) and career-best effort of Ashok Dinda (4/19).
Pathan bowled a fine opening spell of three overs as he dismissed Tillekaratne Dilshan (0), Upul Tharanga (5) and the dangerous Mahela Jayawardene (26, 5x4). If Pathan ran through the top-order, Dinda cleaned up the lower order, taking the last three wickets in his third over without conceding a run.
Aided by conditions that helped seamers, Pathan repeatedly swung the ball back into the right handers as he induced Dilshan into playing across the line and getting him castled in the process.
Left-hander Tharanga got a ball that swung away from him as he went for a drive only to offer a simple catch to first slip. Jayawardene, who hit Umesh Yadav for four boundaries in an over, got one from Pathan that came back to hit him on the pads.
The Lankan captain wasn’t happy as he felt that the delivery might have been missing the leg-stump.
At 35 for three, Lahiru Thirimanne (20) and Angelo Mathews (31) joined hands to add 33 runs before Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed the former who went for an ambitious reverse sweep. At 68 for four, things looked ominous for the hosts.
Mathews edged one to Dhoni off Dinda and Jeevan Mendis hit one from Yadav straight to Rahane at covers. At 100 for six, the Lankans could hardly do anything better than wait for the inevitable.
Earlier, Kohli continued his smashing form, hitting a brilliant 48-ball 68. He was involved in a couple of crucial partnerships, including 74 runs with Ajinkya Rahane (21) and 48 with Suresh Raina (34 not out, 3x4, 1x6) for the second and third wicket respectively. Kohli’s innings consisted of 11 boundaries and a six.
However, India couldn’t accelerate much towards the end, managing only 84 runs in the last 10 overs, with a meagre 35 coming off the last five.
Put in to bat, Gautam Gambhir (6) got a reprieve when his mistimed pull-shot was dropped at deep mid-wicket by Shaminda Eranga. However, the rookie pacer made amends as he bowled the opener.
Kohli put the Lankans on the back foot with a flurry of boundaries.
Among the shots Kohli hit, a cover drive off Mathews and a shot through point region delighted the crowd.
The Delhi-lad was off the blocks in a flash but the same can’t be said about Rahane who was finding it difficult to score runs on a track where the ball was doing a bit.
Rahane finally got something going his way as he hit Thisara Perera over extra cover for a big six before offering a simple return catch to Mendis. Kohli finally completed his maiden T20I half-century off 32 balls when he hit left-arm spinner Rangana Herath over extra-cover for a boundary.
The shot of the innings, however, was a six by Kohli off leg-spinner Mendis’ bowling. Mendis fired it down leg-side as the batsmen came down the track. Kohli maintained perfect balance as he converted it into an over-pitched delivery.
He finally holed out in the deep off Eranga’s bowling, when his cross-batted shot failed to clear the deep mid-wicket fielder. Kohli’s departure slowed down things as the Lankan bowlers were successful in bowling a number of dot balls.