India 321-3 (Kohli 133no, Gambhir 63) beat
Sri Lanka 320-4 (Dilshan 160no) by 7 wickets
Eleventh CB Series match, Hobart
Virat Kohli’s astonishing unbeaten innings of 133 from just 86 balls kept India’s hopes of qualifying for the CB Series finals alive by helping his side to chase down Sri Lanka’s total of 320 for four with 80 balls to spare.
The Sri Lankans had had centuries from Tillakaratne Dilshan (160 not out from 165 balls) and Kumar Sangakkara (105 from 87) to thank for their imposing total and they must have thought, judging by India’s previous batting efforts in the competition, that it would be more than enough, especially as India would need to score the runs in 40 overs in order to secure the batting point they needed to keep their hopes alive.
India’s innings began with a bang thanks to Virender Sehwag (30 from 16) and Sachin Tendulkar (39 from 30) who shared an opening stand of 54 inside the first seven overs. Unfortunately for India, they were unable to go on and they fell to Farveez Maharoof and Lasith Malinga respectively to give Sri Lanka even more cause for optimism.
However, they had reckoned without Kohli, who, in conjunction with Gautam Gambhir, who hit a relatively measured 63 from 64 balls, began an onslaught of the most terrifying proportions on the Sri Lankan seamers. He raced to 50 off 44 balls and reached his hundred just 32 balls later as the likes of Malinga (one for 96 from 7.4 overs) and Nuwan Kulasekara (none for 71 from eight) saw their figures taken a battering.
Gambhir was eventually run-out after a blistering third-wicket partnership of 115 from only 109 balls, and India were left needing 91 from 10 overs to secure the vital bonus point. They needed less than three quarters of the time available as Suresh Raina chipped in with 40 from 24 balls and Kohli hit 33 from the final 10 balls that he faced – including 22 from five deliveries in Malinga’s seventh over – to guide India to a pulsating victory.
As for Sri Lanka, they must pick themselves up ahead of their final group game against Australia on Friday, knowing that a win will still be enough to send India home ahead of the finals that begin on Sunday.
© Cricket World 2012