• Sri Lanka v India, only T20I, Pallekele

Kohli and Irfan seal win for India

The Report by Siddhartha Talya
August 7, 2012 « Fabregas and Pires helped Cazorla decide on Arsenal | Chartbeat test »
India 155 for 3 (Kohli 68, Raina 34*, Eranga 2-30) beat Sri Lanka 116 (Mathews 31, Dinda 4-19, Irfan 3-27) by 39 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Virat Kohli made another half-century © AFP
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Virat Kohli continued to be imperious, and Irfan Pathan impressed once again, as India completed a successful limited-overs campaign in Sri Lanka with a comfortable win in the only T20 international on the tour. Kohli was in complete command, picking gaps at will, finding boundaries with minimum effort, even off the occasional mistimed shot, and helped take India to 155. Irfan, who found considerable swing, undermined a Sri Lankan fightback with the ball in the death overs by dismissing three senior Sri Lanka batsmen and was backed up by a containing effort by the rest.

The game began brightly for Sri Lanka, with Shaminda Eranga completing a unique achievement; his wicket off Gautam Gambhir meant he's now picked up a wicket in the first over of his debuts in Tests, ODIs and T20 internationals. But Kohli's entry to the crease ensured that early high was short-lived.

Sri Lanka's bowlers targeted the off side, Kohli's preferred areas being through square leg and midwicket, and bowled to their field, but such was his dominance that no part of the ground was secure. A short ball from Angelo Mathews was clubbed over midwicket, a good length delivery next ball was guided through point and Eranga was taken for fours to each part of the off side - point, extra cover and then mid-off, though two of those shots were mistimed.

When Thisara Perera was brought on in the sixth over, he made the mistake of bowling too straight and was promptly struck for three fours in a row, two past short fine leg. His low backlift helped Kohli to adapt easily to deliveries that were pushed in fuller and his wristwork, as always, was his primary weapon. Thirty-six off his first 38 runs came in boundaries.

The introduction of spin after the field restrictions slowed India down, and accounted for Rahane's wicket as he drove one straight back at Jeevan Mendis. Overs nine to 12 yielded only 25, though they included a six and a four from Kohli as he charged out of the crease on each occasion.

Suresh Raina walked in ahead of Rohit Sharma and picked up a couple of neatly-clipped fours off Eranga and Perera through the leg side. Kohli survived a close run-out chance but following a stand of 48, he timed one shot a touch too well, smacking a slower one from Eranga straight to deep midwicket. There were some hits and misses from MS Dhoni that gave him some frustrating moments and even though Raina dispatched Lasith Malinga over long-off, the Sri Lankan seamers were largely accurate in their lengths in the final few overs. Only 31 came off the last five, but India were not made to rue that slip.

Irfan was off target on occasion - his first ball was wide and cut for four - but got the ball to move in through the air and castled Tillakaratne Dilshan in the first over. The ball curved away from the left-handed Upul Tharaga and he chased a wide one in Irfan's next over to be caught at slip. Mahela Jayawardene, who opened the batting, threatened a counter-attack, targeting Umesh Yadav. He used Yadav's pace to guide him for fours through third man and point, then cut and whipped him in the same over to collect 17 runs off it. But his stay, too, was ended by an Irfan inswinger in the fifth over. Jayawardene moved back and closed the face but was struck on the pads just in line with leg stump.

Lahiru Thirimanne and Angelo Mathews tried to maintain the tempo, stepping out and going over the top and adding 33 in quick time. But Thirimanne's attempt to reverse-sweep a straight ball from R Ashwin failed and cost him his wicket. The run-rate slipped, the pressure grew and wickets continued to tumble. Mathews nicked Ashok Dinda - who also cleaned up the tail to finish with four wickets - to the keeper, Jeevan Mendis spooned a catch to extra cover and Perera was run out by a direct hit from Manoj Tiwary, all in a space of 15 deliveries.

Seven down and with 54 needed off 28, Sri Lanka had to attack and their efforts to do so hastened their end. They'll now look to the Sri Lanka Premier League to sharpen their T20 skills while India await New Zealand before they return to this country for the World T20.

Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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