Hambantota, Jul 21: There were two tons in Hambantota on Saturday night. But only one centurion ended up on the winning side. It was Virat Kohli's 106 that proved better than Kumar Sungakkara's 133 in the first One Day International between India and Sri Lanka.
In the Sri Lankan chase, there was some late order assault by Thisara Perera (44), making it an interesting contest. But India were always on top and emerged victorious by 21 runs. The asking rate was too high for the hosts to reach towards the end. In pursuit of 315, Sri Lanka ended with 293/9 in 50 overs.
At the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Kohli once again showed why he is rated as one of the best young batsmen in world cricket today.
His 12th ODI ton took India to 314/6 in 50 overs and though Sangakkara fought a lone battle with his 14th ODI century, India won to take 1-0 lead in the five-match series. Both batsmen had batted at No. 3 position.
New ball bowler Irfan Pathan was excellent, finishing with figures of 2/37 in 10 overs. Umesh Yadav and R Ashwin too had two wickets apiece. It was a winning debut for India at this ground, which was built for the 2011 World Cup.
The second match of the series takes place on July 24, Tuesday, at the same stadium.
India innings report
Virat Kohli continues to dazzle with the bat. The Indian vice-captain hit his fourth One Day International century in five games and 12th of his career to guide India to 314/6 in 50 overs.
In the first match of the five-game series, it was Kohli (106) and Virender Sehwag (96) who shared the batting honours to put India in a strong position after captain MS Dhoni won the toss and chose to bat. In the end, it was Suresh Raina (50) and Dhoni (35) who increased the scoring to take the score past 300.
Kohli, the 23-year-old right-hander has been impressive in the last six months and he continued in same vein. He reached his 12th ODI ton and second successive three-figure mark and a hat-trick of tons against the Sri Lankans. His 12th ODI ton has come in 86th match and 83rd innings.
The Delhi batsman's previous ODI innings was a mammoth 183 against Pakistan in Asia Cup on March 18 in Dhaka.
Gautam Gambhir was dismissed early for just three runs but Sehwag and Kohli steadied the innings and put India in a strong position with a 173-run partnership for the second wicket.
Sehwag was unlucky to miss out on a ton after being run out for 96. Sehwag was dropped by Tillakaratne Dilshan when on zero and he made the most of the opportunity.
Sri Lanka's strike bowler Lasith Maliga went wicketless in his 10 overs and was expensive, conceding 83 runs. Thisara Perera took two wickets in two balls in the final over and finished with 3/70 in 10 overs.
Indian captain MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to bat first in the first One Day International against Sri Lanka at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium here on Saturday.
India are going in with two spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha. Zaheer Khan returns to the team and will be partnered by Umesh Yadav. Irfan Pathan is the all-rounder.
India left out Rahul Sharma, who was tested positive for drug usage in a rave party in May.
This is the first time India are playing at this ground, which was built for 2011 World Cup.
Sri Lanka have left-arm spinner Rangana Herath in the team with Lasith Malinga leading the attack.
This is a five-match series. They will also play a lone Twenty20 International after this ODI series.
India are back on the field after a break of more than a month. The players were last seen during the Indian Premier League (IPL 5) which concluded on May 27.
Sachin Tendulkar has opted out of this tour while paceman Vinay Kumar who was initially in the squad, got injured during training and Irfan Pathan replaced him.
Playing XIs: India: MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Virat Kohli (vice-captain), Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav, Irfan Pathan.
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (captain), Angelo Mathews (vice-captain), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thisara Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath.
Umpires: Bruce Oxenford (Australia) and Ranmore Martinesz (Sri Lanka)
Third Umpire: Ruchira Palliyaguruge (Sri Lanka)
Match Referee: Chris Broad