Youngster Virat Kohli steered India to a four-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in their tri-series one-day international in Perth yesterday, before losing his wicket in dramatic fashion.
Although Sachin Tendulkar again failed in his quest to score his long-awaited 100th international century, Kohli’s impressive 77 ensured India notched a comfortable win.
Sri Lanka made 233-8 after winning the toss and electing to bat, but India replied with 234-6, reaching the victory target with 20 balls to spare.
Kohli, the only player to make a century during the tourists’ dismal 4-0 Test series loss to Australia, again upstaged his more celebrated teammates, until he ran himself out and seemed to suffer a hamstring injury in doing so.
The 23-year-old was run out by a direct hit from Lasith Malinga at mid-on.
He had appeared to be suffering cramp late in his innings and he had to be assisted from the ground after a despairing dive.
He faced 94 balls, hitting eight boundaries and one six, and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said he was hopeful it was not a hamstring strain.
“He just got cramp, so I don’t think it is very serious,” said Dhoni, adding that he could not recall previously seeing a batsman have to be helped from the field after a dismissal. “Maybe somebody got hit and fell on the wickets, but I have never seen it.”
It was the first time India and Sri Lanka had met in a one-day international since last year’s World Cup final, which India again won, that time by six wickets.
Sri Lanka’s total never looked quite enough on a perfect Perth batting wicket and in front of a small crowd of 6,685 dominated by India fans.
They were desperate to see Tendulkar, the “Little Master,” reach his long-awaited milestone and he appeared to be cruising toward his half-century, but on 48 he dragged an Angelo Mathews delivery onto his stumps to make it 27 Test and one-day innings since his last century, in March last year at the World Cup.
India looked shaky at 181-6 when Kohli departed, but man-of-the-match Ravi Ashwin (30 not out) and Ravindra Jadeja (24 not out) guided them home.
Dhoni praised the all-round performance of Ashwin, who also picked up three wickets in the Sri Lanka innings, as the difference between the sides.
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene said his batsmen simply did not score enough runs.
“Losing wickets after small partnerships held us back,” Jayawardene said.
“We were probably 30 or 40 runs short of our target,” he said.
Dinesh Chandimal’s polished knock of 64 from 81 balls was the mainstay of the Sri Lanka innings and it at least helped them post a competitive total.
Several of the Sri Lanka batsmen squandered promising starts, including opener Tillakaratne Dilshan (48) and veteran Kumar Sangakkara (26), but 22-year-old Chandimal was the only one to reach his half-century.
However, he fell just as Sri Lanka were trying to boost their run-rate late in the innings, beaten in flight by the spin of Ashwin and comprehensively stumped by Dhoni in the 44th over.
Dhoni and Ashwin combined twice for stumpings, also removing Thisara Perera.
Ashwin, dropped from the India side for the third Test at the same venue last month, was the pick of India’s bowlers with 3-32 from his 10 overs, while recalled paceman Zaheer Khan picked up 2-44 from 10 overs.
The loss continued a dismal record for Sri Lanka at the WACA, with just two one-day international victories in 16 matches.