Hobart, Feb 28: Virat Kohli was just sensational on Tuesday night at the Bellerive Oval. The young right-hander blasted an unbeaten 86-ball 133 to give India the much needed bonus-point victory over Sri Lanka in a big chase to keep the team alive in the tri-series.
[Scorecard: India vs Sri Lanka, Feb 28, Hobart]
Also read: Kohli shows seniors how to bat
Faced with a daunting task of chasing down a mammoth 321 under 40 overs, India finished off the job in 36.4 overs losing just three wickets. The chase was built around Kohli's brilliant batting display where he smashed Sri Lankan paceman Lasith Malinga all over the park. Malinga ended the day with a forgettable figures of 7.4-0-96-1 (12.52 runs per over). This will go down as the worst economy rate in ODI history.
For a change, it was a power failure at the ground and not India's batting failure! During the innings break, power went off and one of the light towers at the ground did not function initially before the lights came on later.
Man-of-the-match Kohli plundered 44 runs off Malinga in just 15 balls from him. An unimaginable strike rate of 293.33 against one of the best bowlers. That also included 24 from one over where his scoring sequence was 2, 6, 4, 4, 4, 4.
The 23-year-old's ninth ODI hundred was studded with 16 boundaries and two sixes. Of the nine tons, six have come in India's successful chases. You could call Kohli the second innings man. He averages 55.20 in 49 matches while India is batting second and has tallied 2,153 runs after this game.
This was also first century by an Indian in the tri-series. Kohli was also the lone centurion during the team's 0-4 humiliation in the Test series. The Delhi batsman is now the leading run scorer in the series with 373.
Kohli was severe on the on-side, scoring 79 runs as against 54 on the off. He had 37 singles and 10 doubles.
Gautam Gambhir (63) and Suresh Raina (40 not out off 24 balls) too were simply magnificent on the night as India's batsmen finally fired on this dismal tour of Australia.
Raina and Kohli's unbroken four-wicket stand was worth 120 in just 9.1 overs which powered India home with plenty to spare. Raina-Kohli pair annihilated Sri Lankan bowlers, scoring at 13.09 run per over.
India were on the brink of exit but now can breathe a sigh of relief after coming up with one of their best ODI chases in history. This was their third best ODI chase ever. They won with 80 balls remaining.
To scale down a score of 321 in 36.4 overs, is not a small feat. This has to go down in ODI cricket history as one of the greatest chases ever. India scored at an amazing rate of 8.75 per over which deserves special mention. If they had continued at this rate, they would have reached close to 440 in 50 overs! Only South Africa have done better in terms of run rate when they overhauled a world record 438 against Australia in 2006 at 8.78 runs per over.
You can divide India's chase into two Twenty20 innings. They were on target after the first 20 overs with 160/2 on the board. And needing 161 in the next 20, they won with 3.2 overs remaining.
For the second time against India, Tillakaratne Dilshan's knock of 160 went in vain. His previous 160 ended in a lost cause as they narrowly missed out chasing a target of 415 in Rajkot, India, on December 15, 2009.
Earlier, Sachin Tendulkar (39) and Virender Sehwag (30) set the ball rolling with a 54-run opening stand in 6.2 overs. This was India's second half century association for the first wicket in the series and came at the right time.
India have to now wait till Friday to know their fate. If Australia defeat Sri Lanka in the last league game on Friday, then India will play in the best-of-three finals.
India now have 15 points, same as Sri Lanka while Australia are already in the finals with 19.
If Australia win on Friday, then Sri Lanka and India will be tied with 15. However, according to tournament rules, number of wins will be taken into account to see who progress. But both would have had three wins each. The next option to determine the finalist is head-to-head record and India will edge the Islanders as they have beaten them 2-1 with the other game ending in a tie.
Sri Lanka Innings Report
Sri Lanka, riding high on Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara's tons, posted 320/4 off 50 overs. In order to have any hopes of qualifying for the finals, India need to reach the target within 40 overs to get a bonus point.
Sangakkara, proved yet again that he is capable of scoring big, with a magnificent knock of 105 off 87 balls which included 8 boundaries and two huge sixes to register his 13th ODI hundred before being dismissed by Praveen Kumar in the 44th over.
India were taken by surprise as they dismissed Sangakkara which brought an end to the 200-run stand between Sangakkara and Dilshan, their highest second wicket partnership in ODI history, as Praveen successfully got his man off a slow yorker which went past Sanga's pads and rattled the stumps.
Though India managed to get a few wickets after the fall of Sangakkara, Dilshan on the other end ensured that Sri Lanka reached a mammoth score and kept Indians at bay as he got 160, equalling his highest score during the unsuccessful chase of 415 against India.
India managed to get Thisara Perera (3), Angelo Mathews (14) early but that didn't make a difference as Dilshan took the game away from control as he smashed 160 off 165 balls which included 11 boundaries and 3 sixes. He was involved in a record partnership for the 2nd wicket as Sangakkara and the right-hander added 200 runs for the second wicket to create history.
Mahela Jayawardene started off well as Sri Lanka were off to a sensible start, ensuring no damage, but Ravindra Jadeja managed to strike early as he got rid of the skipper in his first over, twelfth over of the innings for 22 runs. It looked like Mahela gifted his wicket, as he gave a simple catch to Sehwag at slip, which marked India's start as they got the first wicket.
But things weren't easy after the first 15 overs, as Indians were made to toil, the run rate gradually increased to 5 and then 6 and nearing 6.4 by the end of the innings. Dilshan's knock was very crucial as he stayed till the end unbeaten on 160, with Sangakkara and other batsmen to guide Lanka to a winning total.
Lanka scored at a breath-taking pace, as they got 41 runs in the batting powerplay, 120 runs from the last 12 overs, to reach 320/4 in 50 overs.
Now, India chasing the uphill task, need to reach the target in 40 overs, to get a bonus point and keep the series alive, though that doesn't assure a berth in the finals.
Earlier in the day, Indian skipper MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to bowl first against Sri Lanka in the tri series ODI at Hobart on Tuesday.
This is India's last chance to keep the series alive as they have to win this ODI with a bonus point in order to reach the tri-series final.
India made one change this morning, as Zaheer Khan replaced injured Irfan Pathan for the eleventh match of the tri-series at Hobart.
"Irfan's injury affects his bowling more than his batting, and we need the extra seamer, so Zaheer is back," Dhoni said after winning the toss and elected to field.
But, the all-rounder's injury might hamper India's chances as he has been one of the strike bowlers, moreover, he has proved that he is the one India can rely on later in the innings, due to his injury, India will miss Pathan's stroke play in this ODI.
Sri Lanka on the other hand, have named an unchanged team for today's clash.
Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Kumar Sangakkara (wicketkeeper), Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Farveez Maharoof, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath.
India: Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav.