Virat Kohli, R Ashwin help India beat Sri Lanka at Perth
Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman Virat Kohli anchored India’s chase while Ravichandran Ashwin set up and sealed a 4 wicket win for India against Sri Lanka in the second ODI of the Commonwealth Bank tri-series at Perth on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka posted 233/8 after winning the toss and choosing to bat first, strikes from Royal Challengers Bangalore spearhead Zaheer Khan and later R Ashwin keeping their dangerous batsmen in check. Virat Kohli’s 77 took India to a comfortable position before a mini collapse late in the chase caused them worries but Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja put up an unbeaten 53 run partnership for the 7th wicket to see India through.
Zaheer Khan was at his miserly best on his return to the ODI team, replacing Rahul Sharma. He troubled Upul Tharanga with his inswingers before having him caught by Sachin Tendulkar in the slips to give India their first breakthrough, SL down at 12/1. Kumar Sangakkara and Royal Challengers Bangalore all rounder Tillakaratne Dilshan then steadied the innings for Sri Lanka, adding 62 runs for the second wicket when Dhoni brought in Zaheer for a brief spell. One more beautifully set up inswinger and a wonderful dive from Dhoni saw Sangakkara walking back, gone for 26.
Tillakaratne Dilshan had seen off probing spells from Zaheer, Vinay Kumar and Praveen Kumar but slowed down after Sangakkara’s dismissal. He was dismissed on 48 trying to cut Jadeja only for Virat Kohli to take an excellent catch at point.
Mahela Jayawardene added 52 runs with Dinesh Chandimal for the 4th wicket before a badly misjudged sweep off Ashwin was caught by Rohit Sharma at deep square leg. SL went from 152/3 to 204/7 as Ashwin picked up two more wickets in his spell, both stumpings by Dhoni, while Vinay Kumar picked up a wicket in the last over of SL’s innings. Dinesh Chandimal played anchor for SL with his 64 off 81 while Angelo Mathews provided them crucial thrust at the end with his 33* off 28b.
Ashwin finished with 3/32 and Zaheer with 2/44 as Sri Lanka reached 233/8 at the end of their 5 overs. Jadeja finished his 10 overs with 1/41, a big improvement from his 0/41 in just 2.4 overs in the first ODI.
Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, the only double centurions in ODI cricket opened the batting for India as Sehwag replaced Gambhir in the line-up. He didn’t stay long, slashing his way to 10 off 8 before an upper cut didn’t go as planned and he was caught by Nuwan Kulasekara at third man.
Tendulkar and Kohli added 75 for the second wicket, the former adding 44 of them. Tendulkar looked in good touch, almost cocky and one cheeky attempt to run the ball down fine off Mathews saw him play it on to his stumps, making him the second opener in the game to be dismissed for 48.
Kohli cut loose in the 24th over, going after Dammika Prasad, racing from 33 to 50 within two overs only to see Rohit Sharma play a horrible cut shot. Dilshan flew to his left at point and held the screamer to send him back for 10. Raina took on the onus of scoring in his 33 run partnership with Kohli after that but fell to a short ball, leaving India 157/4 in the 33rd over.
MS Dhoni was dismissed in the next over, adding to the pressure on Kohli who had begun cramping up. Then, just after having hit Prasad for a straight six, Kohli decided to take a single that was never there to keep strike. His desperate dive was easily beaten by a direct hit from Malinga and writhing in pain, he had to be carried off the field for 77 off 94 balls. India were now 181/6 with 53 required in 14 overs.
Ashwin and Jadeja however didn’t let the pressure get to them. Helped by Sri Lanka who strangely didn’t go for the kill, the duo knocked about to calmly collect singles, run hard twos and threes to chip away at the total. They negated the threat that Malinga posed successfully and milked runs off Kulasekara, Dilshan and Mathews.
Malinga returned when the duo had bought down the required amount to just 17 runs and they took him on this time. Ashwin even handled the short balls well, pulling two of them superbly for boundaries as India eventually crossed the line in the 47th over. With one run required for a win, Ashwin mishit one high in the air. Three fielders converged under it at mid off but none called it or caught it and the batsmen ran the one they required to finish the chase in 46.4 overs.
Jadeja finished on 24* while Ashwin on 30*. Coupled with his 3/32 from earlier in the innings, his all round show was enough to win the lanky offspinner the Man of the Match award.