Virat Kohli’s 106 off 113 balls helped India beat Sri Lanka by21 runs in the first One-day International of the five-match series here on Saturday. Kohli struck nine fours in an innings which saw him put together a partnership of 173 runs off 175 balls for the second wicket. Sehwag, who was the aggressor for much of the period, was unlucky not to score his 16th century as he fell four runs short.
In reply to India’s 314 for six, former skipper Kumar Sangakarra fought a lone battle for the islanders, scoring a brilliant 133. The Sri Lankans never looked in the chase as they huffed and puffed to a score of 293 for nine. India made a shaky start, showing the rustiness of not playing for three months. Gautam Gambhir (3) was the first person to be dismissed, bowled around his leg from a swinging delivery by medium pacer Nuwan Kulasekara.
Sehwag was given a reprieve by Tillakaratne Dilshan who dropped him at point when he was zero. The Delhi marauder took full advantage of the missed opportunity smashing 10 fours on his way to 96 runs of just 97 balls. The Delhi duo put India firmly in control with the score on 180 for one in the 31st over, before Sehwag was run out. Rohit Sharma (5), who is yet to cement his place in the Indian squad, was the next to go as he was castled by all-rounder Angelo Mathews. Kohli too fell soon after his century, as the Indians seemed to lose some impetus. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (35) and Suresh Raina (50) steadied the ship stringing together a partnership of 79 balls just 55 balls.
Thisara Perera took two wickets in the last over of the innings but it hardly mattered as India set Sri Lanka a huge target. Sehwag returned the favour of Dilshan (6) dropping him by putting the opener down in what was a regulation catch at first slip. Irfan Pathan though spared Sehwag the blushes by trapping the Sri Lankan plump in front in the very next over. Following the early loss, Sri Lankans never got going. Opener Upal Tharanga (28) and Sangakarra took their time at the crease with the Indian bowlers well in command. Tharanga and Sangakarra had a partnership of 77 runs, before the former’s wicket led to a further slump in the scoring rate.
Much was expected from young Dinesh Chandimal (13) but he failed to fire, falling victim to Umesh Yadav. Wickets tumbled at regular intervals as Sri Lanka fell way behind the run rate.Sangakarra carried on with his one-man show for the Lankans. Big-hitting Perera (44) soon joined him at the crease with the score on 191 for six. The duo tried their best to rescue Sri Lanka from an impossible situation and for a while gave the Indians a scare with their partnership of 78 from 53 balls. Yadav ended Sangakarra’s fairytale innings and with it all of Sri Lanka's hopes. Indian bowlers led by Ravichandran Ashwin (2-46) and Irfan Pathan (2-37) had a great day in the office.
Brief scores: India 314-6 (Kohli 106, Sehwag 96, Raina 50; Perera 3-70) beat Sri Lanka 293-9 (Sangakkara 133; Pathan 2-37) by 21 runs