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Pallekele: Virat Kohli and Irfan Pathan starred in India’s 39-run win over Sri Lanka in the lone Twenty20 International at Pallekele on Tuesday, capping a successful tour that also saw the visitors winning the ODI series 4-1 this past week.
The win took India to the No.4 spot in the ICC’s Twenty20 rankings.
India was sent in by Sri Lanka and posted 155-3, chiefly through Kohli’s maiden T20 half-century, and pegged Sri Lanka back in the chase through Irfan Pathan’s three early strikes.
The hosts stuttered Pathan removed the top three batsmen with just 35 on the board.
Pathan picked up a wicket in each of his first three overs. Dilshan was bowled by a late inswinger in the first over and Upul Tharanga followed a horribly wide delivery with an equally horrible shot
Mahela Jayawardene (26), who had appeared to be the lone batsman with a head for the chase, was handed a marginal leg before verdict in the fifth over when he had raced to 26.
Jayawardene had spanked four fours in Umesh Yadav’s fourth over of the chase, but after his dismissal Sri Lanka slowed down.
They attempted to course correct through Thirimanne (20) and Angelo Mathews (31), but R. Ashwin came on in the tenth over and bowled the former as he went for the reverse sweep.
After Mathews was caught behind off Ashok Dinda, Sri Lanka needed 60 in 7 overs. But Perera and Mendis failed to move along, and the run rate soon crept beyond the point of attainment.
Dinda mopped up the tail to finish with four for 19, the game ending when he had Lasith Malinga caught behind on the last ball of the 18th over, with the score on 116.
Earlier, Kohli scored the highest score by an Indian against Sri Lanka in a Twenty20 game, as India ironically ended with its lowest ever score against the hosts.
India finished with 155-3 at least 30 short of what appeared gettable when Kohli and Raina (34 n.o.
) were in the middle. The innings suffered from sluggishness first from Ajinkya Rahane up the order, and then from a scratchy M.S. Dhoni lower down.
Sri Lanka sent India in as Rahane replaced Virender Sehwag (glute inury) and Umesh Yadav replaced Zaheer Khan.
After having failed in the last ODI, Rahane batted like a man on a tight-rope, wary that any miss from here could mean more downtime on benches across the stadia of the world. He finally perished for a 25-ball 21, lobbing the ball back to Jeevan Mendis.
This after the man in form Gautam Gambhir was out early when he was bowled by T20 debutant Shaminda Eranga’s first over. The southpaw heaved across the line and lost his middle stump, giving Eranga the unique distinction of picking up a wicket in each of his first overs in all the three formats.
Kohli came in and continued his imperious run of form. He spanked boundaries from the get go, picking fours off Angelo Mathews and Eranga, and then dispatching Thisara Perera to the fence on three successive balls in the sixth over.
The Delhi batsman raced to his first T20 half-century in 32 balls and had nine fours in his first 38 runs. He added 74 for the second wicket with Rahane playing the role of a sleeping partner, and then 48 in five overs with Suresh Raina, who was promoted over Rohit Sharma.
Kohli escaped a close run out call on 48 but fell on 68 to an Eranga slow delivery when he was caught at mid wicket.
Raina took over, coming into his own towards the end when he smashed a fuller Malinga delivery for six over long off, but India could muster only 35 off the last five as Dhoni struggled to get going.
India recorded its lowest Twenty20 score against Sri Lanka, but that still proved enough.