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Virat Kohli scored his second consecutive ton against Sri Lanka and shared a double century partnership with Gautam Gambhir before Irfan Pathan continued his good run on his most recent comeback as India defeated Sri Lanka by 50 runs tonight in the second match of the Asia Cup at Dhaka.
At the toss, India captain MS Dhoni said, "We are going through a transition phase, it is not a settled side, youngsters are still looking to seal places in the side, there is a lot of competition, which is good. It is good to have the experience of Sachin in the side." However, the team selection for this match raised more questions than answers as it was almost the same playing eleven who took the field in the just-concluded Commonwealth Bank Series. Ravindra Jadeja retained his place in the team despite his below-par performances in Australia; while the likes of Yusuf Pathan, Manoj Tiwary and the in-form Ashok Dinda sat out on the bench.
India and Sri Lanka last played each other in a high-scoring match in the Commonwealth Bank Series at Hobart two weeks back that India won riding on Kohli's 86-ball 133*. India needed to chase down the target of 321 inside 40 overs to earn a bonus point; but despite the inspired chase, they failed to make it to the finals after Sri Lanka defeated Australia in the last league match.
In this match, India were put into bat by Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene and had a bad start as they lost Sachin Tendulkar in the sixth over of the match when he pushed a high full toss to Jayawardene from the bowling of Suranga Lakmal. Tendulkar, who has now gone 33 innings without scoring his 100th international century, stood his ground as he wasn't sure if Jayawardene had taken a clean catch and if the delivery was also waist-high. However, replays indicated all was fine and Tendulkar had to make his way back to the dressing room.
But, Sri Lanka then had to wait for another 37 overs to get a breakthrough as Kohli and Gambhir added 205 runs for the second wicket as they rotated the strike well while also hitting the occasional boundary. Kohli, who was the pick of India's batsmen in Australia, continued with his good form as he scored a 120-ball 108 and he was given good company by Gambhir who made 100 from 118 balls as the pair weren't too troubled by either pace or spin.
Kohli and Gambhir both scored the 10th century of their ODI careers by taking singles off Nuwan Kulasekara in the 42nd over, but both were dismissed in the very next bowled by Farveez Maharoof as they attempted to step up the run rate. Gambhir was dropped by Dinesh Chandimal when he was on 36; and the southpaw made the most of the largesse and piled on the misery along with Kohli for the Sri Lankans.
Dhoni and Suresh Raina then put the Sri Lankan bowling attack to the sword, as Jayawardene clearly missed the rested Lasith Malinga. Dhoni and Raina plundered 78 runs from the last 7.1 overs of India's innings to swell the total and put Sri Lanka under pressure in the second half of the match. The India captain hit six boundaries and a massive six in his 26-ball 46*, while Raina seemed to be back to his best on the flat tracks of the sub-continent as he smashed his way to an unbeaten 30 from just 17 balls. Maharoof (2-57) was the most successful Sri Lankan bowlers, while S Prasanna was the most economical with figures of 9-0-45-0 as India ended with 304-3 in 50 overs.
Sri Lanka's run chase suffered an early setback when Pathan, who was the most successful of India's bowlers with 4-32, had the in-form Tillakaratne Dilshan caught off a long hop delivery by Kohli at midwicket. The experienced pair of Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara then consolidated Sri Lanka's innings as they got the chase back on track with their 93-run partnership for the second wicket in just over 14 overs.
Jayawardene, in particular took the attack to India's bowlers; especially Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar and Raina as he hit 10 boundaries and two sixes in his 59-ball 78 before Irfan struck for the second time when he had Sri Lanka's skipper caught behind by Dhoni to give India the much-needed breakthrough. At the time of Jayawardene's dismissal, Sri Lanka was 124 for 2 in the 19th over and were in control of the run chase. Dinesh Chandimal had a terrific CB Series with the bat, but he only made 13 in this match before the carrom delivery from R Ashwin held its line and struck the middle stump as the batsman came down the crease.
Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne gave Sri Lanka a glimmer of hope with their 44-run partnership for the fourth wicket, but Ashwin dismissed both the batsmen in the 36th over of the innings to put India firmly in the driver's seat and on the road to victory. Sangakkara hit only two boundaries and a six in his 87-ball 65, but rotated the strike well as he kept the scoreboard ticking over.
Sri Lanka then kept losing wickets at regular intervals with Vinay Kumar striking off consecutive deliveries in the 39th over as he clean bowled Nuwan Kulasekara and then Kohli took a spectacular catch as Chamara Kapugedara was out for a golden duck. Pathan took his third wicket when he clean bowled Upul Tharanga and finished the match when Prasanna holed out to Sachin Tendulkar as Sri Lanka was bowled out for 254 in 45.1 overs.
Sri Lanka's second match of the tournament is against Pakistan at the same ground on Thursday afternoon.
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