Centurion Kohli helps India clinch ODI series in Sri Lanka
India defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets in the fourth one-day international in Colombo on Tuesday to gain an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the five-match series.
Virat Kohli hit an impressive 128 not out and Suresh Raina made an unbeaten half-century as India achieved a 252-run target to register a comfortable six-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the day-night match.
Kohli and Raina shared an unbeaten 145-run stand helped India gain an unassailable 3-1 series lead over Sri Lanka in their five-match ODI series.
Kohli 128 came off just 119 balls while Raina scored 58 off 51 balls.
Chasing 252 for victory, India scored 255 for four with seven-and-a-half overs to spare.
Upul Tharanga (51), Lahiru Thirimanne (47) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (42) were the main scorers for Sri Lanka, while part-time spinner Manoj Tiwary bagged four wickets for India.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni emphasised the role the part-time bowlers' played in his team's win, saying his side had plenty of option to trouble the rival batsmen. Spinner Manoj Tiwary claimed four wickets while Virat Kohli slammed an unbeaten 128 to help India take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series.
"The part-timers bowled really well, the pace was important and they bowled to their field. This is the reason why fast bowlers bowled just 18 overs," Dhoni said after their comfortable six-wicket win.
"What matters is the variations we got now. Manoj is the away going spinner for us, we have some off-spinners and also Virat can bowl his medium pacers with the keeper up. That is the sort of quality we have. They bowled the right length to create trouble for batsmen. So have plenty of options now. Even when Manoj is not there, we have Viru and Suresh Raina who can bowl. So if we don't get a perfect allrounder, we are comfortable playing seven batsmen," he added.
Dhoni also heaped praise on Kohli, who completed his 13th ODI hundred today, and also singled out Raina for special mention.
"Kohli has improved a lot, once he gets set, he's someone who doesn't like to throw away his wicket, he's a very improved cricketer, very hungry to get runs," he said.
"Raina also, he bats at No. 6 or 7, the time has come for him to bat at 4 or 5. The problem is, you have to see what's best for the side, the kind of finisher he is at 6 or 7. "Last one or two years we haven't found anyone who can fit in his shoes. But it is high time he gets a chance to score big runs," he added.
Kohli, who was adjudged Man of the Match, said he was disappointed after his last match failure and that spurred him on. "It's been going well for me, just trying to keep it simple. I got out in the last match, it was disappointing, I thought about it. It always pleases a sportsperson than when we perform and the team wins," he said.
On how he tackled Lasith Malinga, Kohli said: "Luckily, I'm strong on the leg side, he's the sort of bowler if you don't get on top of him, he can change the match. I was very disappointed with the last match as I didn't have the strike-rate to set up a platform for the side."
Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene said his team fell short by 30-40 runs and also failed to pick up wickets. "To control that line-up you need to pick up wicket, that's where we lacked in the last few games, dropping catches doesn't help. The wicket was a touch slow, under lights the ball does a bit, the quicks bowled well, we didn't bat well, 30-40 runs short," he said.
"When you set a target like that, you set attacking fields, if you get through that initial period, it becomes easy for them. Lot of credit to Nuwan Pradeep, bowled with lot of pace, good control as well."
Sri Lanka 251-8 in 50 overs; India 255-4 in 42.2 overs