Mon, Jul 23, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Kohli ton sets up India’s 21-run victory

AFP, HAMBANTOTA, Sri Lanka

India’s Gautam Gambhir is bowled by Sri Lanka’s Nuwan Kulasekara in their first one-day international match in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

Virat Kohli hit an impressive century to set up India’s 21-run victory over Sri Lanka in the opening one-day international in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, on Saturday.

Man-of-the-match Kohli cracked 106 for his 12th one-day century, and the fourth in his past five matches, as India scored 314-6, before restricting Sri Lanka to 293-9 in the day-night game for a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.

Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara defied the India bowling attack, top-scoring with 133 for his 14th one-day century. He hit 12 fours in his 151-ball knock, before being bowled by seamer Umesh Yadav in the 48th over.

Sangakkara added 78 runs for the seventh wicket with Thisara Perera (44), but their efforts came too late to stop India from winning the match.

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, and seamers Irfan Pathan and Umesh Yadav each took two wickets for the tourists.

Kohli, 23, earlier helped India set a stiff target with a 173-run stand for the second wicket with opener Virender Sehwag, who hit a 97-ball 96 with the help of 10 fours.

“Sehwag and Kohli batted very well,” India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said. “This was one game where I felt the toss would be crucial. In the second innings, there was variable bounce and it was a little difficult to bat on.”

India lost opener Gautam Gambhir (3) in the third over after electing to bat, but Sehwag and Kohli propped up the innings with their big stand.

Kohli hit nine fours in his 113-ball knock, before falling in the 40th over, caught by substitute fielder Sachithra Senanayake in the covers off seamer Perera.

Sehwag, who returned to the one-day squad after missing the Asia Cup in Bangladesh in March due to an injury, looked set to complete his 16th one-day century before he was run out.

Suresh Raina smashed a 45-ball half-century and Dhoni made 35 off 29 deliveries as India scored 86 in the final 10 overs.

“We’ve got some big hitters at the end, but we left too much for them to do. We never had the momentum going into the last 10 overs,” Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene said. “We’ll try to refocus and come back strong.”

Sehwag had not even opened his account when he was dropped by Tillakaratne Dilshan off paceman Lasith Malinga, while Kohli survived on 16 when Perera failed to hold on to a difficult return catch.

Perera finished with three wickets, including those of Raina and Dhoni off successive balls, while pacemen Nuwan Kulasekara and Angelo Mathews each bagged one wicket.

Hambantota also hosts the second one-day international tomorrow, while the final three matches are scheduled to be played in Colombo (next Saturday and July 31) and in Pallekele (Aug. 4).

The one-day international series will be followed by a one-off Twenty20 international in Pallekele on Aug. 7.

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