Gambhir and Kohli set up India win
Centuries from Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli helped India kick off their Asia Cup campaign with a 50-run victory over Sri Lanka at Mirpur.
After the early dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar, the pair came together to share a second-wicket partnership of 205 and take the game away from Mahela Jayawardene’s side.
Even when Gambhir and Kohli fell to Farveez Maharoof in the space of three balls for 100 and 108 respectively, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who made 46 not out, and Suresh Raina, with an unbeaten 30 off 17 balls, propelled India to an imposing 304 for three courtesy of an unbroken stand of 78 in eight overs.
Sri Lanka’s reply started well as Jayawardene, who hit 78, and Kumar Sangakkara overcame Tillakaratne Dilshan’s exit by sharing in a second-wicket alliance of 93.
That proved in vain, though, as Sri Lanka were dismissed for 254 in the 46th over, Irfan Pathan returning 4-32 and Vinay Kumar and Ravichandran Ashwin claiming three wickets apiece.
After Jayawardene opted to field first, Sri Lanka reaped an instant reward when Tendulkar thumped a low full toss from Suranga Lakmal to short extra-cover in the sixth over.
But their joy was shortlived as Gambhir and Kohli joined forces to frustrate the bowlers, who were lacking the presence of Lasith Malinga, in a steady 37-over stay at the crease.
Kohli, rotating the strike and punishing the bad balls, claimed his second successive one-day international century and 10th of his career from 115 balls, while Gambhir, who was dropped on 36 and survived a run-out opportunity on 94, went past three figures in the same over from one delivery fewer.
But, in the next, Gambhir hit Maharoof to the diving Upul Tharanga at long-on and Kohli’s 120-ball innings, which included seven fours, ended when he picked out Lahiru Thirimanne at extra cover.
Dhoni and Raina gave India late impetus in a devastating climax, the former striking six fours and a maximum in his 26-ball innings and Raina smashing four boundaries.
Irfan had Dilshan caught by Kohli at midwicket and, despite Jayawardene and Sangakkara getting the chase back on track with an impressive 14-over spell, the seamer returned to have Sri Lanka’s captain caught behind by Dhoni with the score on 124.
Ashwin threw the game into India’s favour with three quick wickets. The spinner bowled Dinesh Chandimal and trapped Thirimanne lbw for 29, either side of Sangakkara providing Ravindra Jadeja with a simple chance at midwicket to depart for 65, as Sri Lanka slipped to 198 for five in the 36th over.
Vinay bowled Nuwan Kulasekara and had Kohli, who took a splendid catch, to thank for removing Chamara Kapugedera first ball, in between which Irfan returned to bowl the experienced Tharanga for 16.
Vinay and Irfan wrapped up the innings in the space of two balls with the dismissals of Maharoof and Seekkuge Prasanna, Raina and Tendulkar taking the catches at cover.