Perth, Feb 8: Virat Kohli's fine half century combined with an all-round effort by Ravichandran Ashwin took India to a four-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the tri-series at the WACA Ground here on Wednesday.
[Scorecard: India Vs Sri Lanka, Feb 8]
India, in pursuit of 234 to open their account in the tournament, were in control before three quick wickets threatened to derail the chase. However, Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin kept the Sri Lankans at bay to take the team home. India finished with 234/6 in 46.4 overs.
Ashwin with three wickets earlier and runs with bat, won the Man-of-the-match award.
Jadeja (24 not out, 28 balls, 1x4) and Ashwin (30 not out, 38 balls, 3x4) stayed together till the end for an unbroken 53-run partnership for the seventh wicket which proved decisive in India's triumph.
Kohli (77, 94 balls, 8x4, 1x6) has been a consistent performer while the team is chasing and it was yet again on view. The young right-hander showed great maturity in anchoring the run chase after the early loss of Virender Sehwag (10) in the third over. Sehwag was caught at third man by Nuwan Kulasekara off Lasith Malinga.
The 23-year-old Kohli averages more than 50 when it comes to batting second. He has scored five hundreds of his eight while the team is in such situations.
Kohli joined Sachin Tendulkar (48, 63 balls, 5x4) and the duo put the team on course for the not so difficult chase. Tendulkar was looking in good touch during his innings and looked set for a big knock. But he played an Angelo Mathews delivery onto the stumps falling two short of a half century.
Rohit Sharma (10) fell to a short ball trying to guide it past point but was snapped up by Tillakaratne Dilshan. Left-hander Suresh Raina again could not handle a short ball. And MS Dhoni too succumbed to a short ball from the Sri Lankans.
All first five wickets came off short balls for the Islanders.
At 167/5 in 33.4 overs at the exit of Dhoni, Indian hopes rested on Kohli's shoulders. The Delhi batsman was suffering from cramps but carried on his innings. However, attempting to take a non-existent single to mid-on, he failed to beat Malinga's direct hit.
Sri Lankan camp was jubilating at the sight of Kohli's wicket with the team in more than a spot of bother at 181/6 in 36 overs. But India were always maintaining a good run rate and that helped the lower order to bat out few dot balls.
Ashwin, joining hands with Jadeja at the fall of sixth wicket, proved his worth once again as a batsman to steer India towards victory.
Sri Lanka now face Australia at the same ground on Friday while India's next game is on Sunday against the hosts in Adelaide.
Sri Lankan Innings Report
A disciplined bowling effort, led by Zaheer Khan and Ravichandran Ashwin, helped India restrict Sri Lanka 233/8 in 50 overs.
Zaheer, playing his first game since the Test series, bowled superbly. He beat the Sri Lankan openers' bats often and was soon rewarded with Upul Tharanga's (4) wicket. Tharanga edged one to wicketkeeper MS Dhoni. Zaheer did the early damage and the Islanders never recovered from there.
Zaheer had two wickets for 44 in 10 overs. Ashwin took three wickets for 32 while Ravindra Jadeja dismissed one batsman. Praveen Kumar had nothing to show in the wickets column. Praveen went for 54 runs in 10 overs. Vinay Kumar had figures of 10-0-56-1.
Such was India's domination in the bowling that more than 150 deliveries were dot balls.
Along with Zaheer, offspinner Ashwin maintained a tight line in his 10-over. It was a good comeback from Ashwin after being hammered for 48 runs in five overs by Australia in the Melbourne opener. The Chennai slow bowler finished with figures of 3/32 in 10 overs.
Zaheer, after removing Tharanga in the third over of the match, also sent back Kumar Sangakkara (26) caught brilliantly by Dhoni. The Indian captain dived full length to his left and pulled off a superb catch to end a threatening partnership between Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan (48).
Sri Lanka scored only 46 runs in the first 10 overs for one wicket. In the bowling powerplay between 16 and 20 overs, India strangled the opposition batsmen with only 11 runs for one wicket. The batting powerplay from 36 to 40 overs produced only 23 runs for two dismissals.
Opener Dilshan fell chasing a wide delivery from Jadeja, caught by Virat Kohli at point.
Dilshan, until then was settling himself to get back to his old aggressive way with six boundaries. This was the first match for Dilshan after relinquishing captaincy duties.
Mahela Jayawardene, back to leading the side, perished for 23, attempting a sweep off Ashwin in the batting powerplay. Rohit Sharma completed a diving catch at square leg.
Thisara Perera, known for his big hitting, was caught by Dhoni off Zaheer when on nought. However, English umpire Nigel Llong failed to hear the faint nick off Perera's bat even as Dhoni came out with a strong appeal. The Hot Spot confirmed a thin edge. But Perera could not capitalise on his chance and was stumped by Dhoni off Ashwin for seven runs.
Dinesh Chandimal's (64, 81 balls, 4x4) efforts ensured Sri Lanka crossed the 200-mark and now have a chance to launch some sort of a fight against an Indian batting line-up which has been misfiring.
Chandimal too was out stumped by Dhoni off Ashwin in the 44th over. His wicket was key as he was the set batsman at that stage and could have added more runs to the total if he had stayed till the end.
After Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne was run out for seven. Angelo Mathews tried for quick runs towards the end and remained unbeaten on 33 off 28 balls.
Vinay got his lone wicket when Nuwan Kulasekara (7) was caught by Rohit in the final over of the innings.
Toss Report: Sri Lanka win toss, to bat first
Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene won the toss and elected to bat first against India in their tri-series game here at the WACA Ground on Wednesday.
India have rested Gautam Gambhir as Virender Sehwag returned to the playing 11. Paceman Zaheer Khan is also in the team with legspinner Rahul Sharma missing out.
Captain MS Dhoni said Rahul is injured. India's bowling attack will have three fast bowlers and a spinner, which is the best way in Australian conditions. In Melbourne they had played two spinners and two seamers.
India have opted to rotate their openers after giving Sehwag rest in the opening game. They have decided to give their younger batsmen more chances.
Jayawardene said the WACA strip looked like a very good batting wicket.
"Looks like a very good batting wicket. We need to adjust to different conditions and we are looking forward to the first game of the series," said Jayawardene.
He added that being back as the captain was a new challenge.
This is the first meeting between the two sides since the World Cup 2011 final in Mumbai last April.
India lost their opening match against Australia by 65 runs in Melbourne last Sunday. Sri Lanka are playing their first match of the series.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar, Zaheer Khan.
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Angelo Mathews, Upul Tharanga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekera, Dhammika Prasad.
Umpires: Nigel Llong (England) and Paul Reiffel (Australia)
Third Umpire: Bruce Oxenford (Australia)
Match Referee: Andrew Pycroft (Zimbabwe)