India end on a high with T20I win
Powered by fine performances from Virat Kohli, Irfan Pathan and Ashok Dinda, India beat Sri Lanka by 39 runs in the solitary T20I at Pallekele on Tuesday.
Coming in early after Gautam Gambhir (6) was sent back by SL debutant Shaminda Eranga, Kohli took little time to settle in. He began with an intimidating pull off Angelo Mathews, before punishing Shaminda Eranga, Lasith Malinga and Thisara Perera in successive overs as the Indian run rate zoomed ahead.
The spinners slowed down the Indian charge but Kohli went on to bring up his 50 off 32 balls with a four. Ajinkya Rahane (21) was nervy in the 74 run second wicket partnership. He went for his shots only against very bad deliveries and his running with Kohli wasn’t fluid.
Suresh Raina was promoted after Rahane’s dismissal and added 48 runs in quick time with Kohli for the third wicket. Only 22 of those runs came in boundaries, they ran hard and Kohli even survived a close run out call on 64. Virat’s innings finally ended on 68 against Eranga when he hit a shot straight down a fielder’s throat at deep midwicket when India went for their final acceleration.
Thisara Perera ended neatly as Dhoni (16*) and Raina (34*) couldn’t give India an explosive enough finish, the team only posting 155/3 in their 20 overs.
Irfan Pathan took a wicket in each of his first three overs, removing Tillakaratne Dilshan (0), Upul Tharanga (5) and then the dangerous looking Mahela Jayawardene (26) to reduce SL to 35/3. A consolidating 33 run partnership between Lahiru Thirimanne and Mathews saw SL go to 68 when Ashwin was introduced into the attack and he immediately removed the former.
Mathews and Jeevan Mendis added another 32 at a good nick before Dinda returned into the attack and had Mathews caught behind. SL needed a gettable 60 from 42b at the point but the scoreboard pressure got to Mendis who gave Rahane a tame catch at short cover off Umesh Yadav. Manoj Tiwary then affected a superb direct hit to run out Thisara Perera, leaving SL on 102/7.
Irfan Pathan’s last over, India’s 17th saw Umesh Yadav drop a sitter and concede a boundary to Eranga, the over went for 12 runs as Irfan finished on 3/27.
The 18th over by Ashok Dinda saw Sri Lanka lose their three remaining wickets without adding a run. Chandimal, Eranga and Malinga swung for the ropes but only found fielders. Ashok Dinda finished with 4/19 in his 3 overs as SL folded for 116, giving India a 39 run win.
Irfan Pathan picked up the Man of the Match award for his superb opening spell while Kohli was the Man of the Series for his superb batting.