Pallekele: Virat Kohli and Irfan Pathan in their menacing best helped India pick up a comprehensive victory over the host Sri Lanka in the only T20 international of the tour. India who had earlier won the five match ODI series 4-1 maintained a near perfect record and won the match by 39 runs.
Electing to field first the match started on a good note for Sri Lanka as the debutant Shaminda Eranga dismissed Gautam Gambhir in the second over of the match with the scorecard reading 7. It was a big blow for India as they lost the man in form but then with the arrival of Kohli put things back on track for India.
Kohli going through a good run was looking impeccable and started picking up runs quickly. On a day when runs were hard to come by Kohli stood in defiance and scored almost at will.
Sri Lankan set a tight off side field for him and were bowling according to the plan but then could not stop Kohli's surge. He was busy scoring boundaries and the first fifty for India came in just 5.4 overs.
Such was Kohli domination that the 38 runs he scored 36 came off boundaries. However thing slowed down in the middle after the introduction of the slow bowlers and saw second Indian casualty in form of Ajinkya Rahane who gave a regulation catch to Jeevan Mendis off his own bowling.
Rahane scored 21 off 25 balls including a six and put up 74 for the second wicket with Kohli. Rahane’s departure brought Suresh Raina to the crease ahead of Rohit Sharma.
Both these batsmen in the crease got busy picking up runs and India were on course of a huge target but things slowed down and Kohli in order to up the tempo got out trying to club one over the deep mid-wicket in the 17th over. He scored 68 of 48 balls including 11 fours and a lone six. Raina and Kohli put up 48 runs partnership for the third wicket.
With Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni out in the middle to support Raina, it did not yield much as India ended their innings at a moderate 155. Raina scored an unbeaten 34 of 25 deliveries laced with three fours and a six whereas Dhoni remained not out on 16 of 14 deliveries with just two fours.
For Sri Lanka Eranga was the pick of the bowlers and finished with figures of 2-30 in four overs.
Coming onto bat, the hosts started off well with their skipper Mahela Jayewardene hitting a boundary on the first ball of the innings. Irfan bowling some wayward deliveries in the initial moments of the match got back his rhythm and swung one back into Tillakaratne Dilshan to castle him on the fifth ball of the innings.
Irfan came back in third over and got the wicket of Upul Tharanga who tried to slash at wide delivery and ended up getting caught at the slips. With Sri Lanka pushed to the wall, Jayewardene took the affairs in his own hand and lodged a counter attack. He scored 17 runs off Umesh Yadav’s second over which included four boundaries.
Just when it looked Sri Lanka was getting all settled Pathan dealt one more blow and this time it was the skipper himself. Irfan’s in-swinger caught him dead in front of the wicket.
Lahiru Thirimanne and Angelo Mathews tried to maintain the tempo and added a quick-fire 33 but then Thrimanne’s ambitious reverse sweep attempt of R Ashwin saw the stumps getting undone.
After that they just collapsed like nine pins with Ashok Dinda cleaning up the tail. Dinda who was bit expensive in his first spell came back strongly in his second spell and took three wickets in one over to wrap up the proceedings.
Irfan Pathan was named man of the match for his brilliant performance with ball.
India: 155/3 in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 68, Suresh Raina 34, Shaminda Eranga 2-30)
Sri Lanka: 116/10 in 18 overs (Angelo Matthews 31, Mahela Jayewardene 26, Irfan Pathan 3-27, Ashok Dinda 4-19)
By Indian Sports News Network