Tiwary and Kohli sink Sri Lanka
Virat Kohli built on the surprise bowling success of Manoj Tiwary by compiling his 13th one-day international hundred as India claimed a series-clinching six-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in Colombo.
Tiwary, a part-time leg-spinner with only one international wicket to his name prior to this fixture, returned 4-61 from 10 overs to limit Sri Lanka to 251 for eight.
That total was then overhauled with comfort as Kohli shared a rapid unbroken partnership of 146 with Suresh Raina to rescue India from 109 for four in the 23rd.
Kohli finished unbeaten on 128 from 119 balls, having struck 12 fours and a six, and Raina contributed 58 not out, ensuring Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men triumphed with more than seven overs unused. They now lead the five-match rubber 3-1.
On a slow pitch, several of India’s lesser bowlers proved difficult to get away and Tiwary’s figures would have been even better had he not been taken for 18 in his final set of six.
Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma and Kohli combined to send down 12 overs at a cost of 51, meaning the frontline pace trio of Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan and Ashok Dinda were not required to complete their full allocation.
Sri Lanka’s initial progress was positive, with openers Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan putting on 91 in good time.
The latter top-edged a pull off Dinda to be caught behind for 42 and Tharanga was stumped shortly after passing 50 when he danced down the track to Ravichandran Ashwin and missed one that did not turn.
A fifty stand between Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal got Sri Lanka back on track, but India’s part-timers soon turned things around.
Chandimal and Mahela Jayawardene each threw their wickets away in quick succession, the youngster picking out square-leg off Tiwary before his captain attempted to scoop Sehwag and miscued to opposite number Dhoni.
Tiwary then accounted for Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis and Thisara Perera in quick succession, before Thirimanne, looking to up the run-rate, was bowled for 47 by Ashwin.
Some lusty late hitting from Rangana Herath and Lasith Malinga repaired some of the damage, and the latter produced a perfect yorker to bowl Gautam Gambhir in the first over of India’s reply.
When Sehwag, who dashed to 34 in typically forthright fashion, was caught via a leading edge off Mathews and Rohit Sharma played across the line to Nuwan Pradeep to fall lbw, the tourists were in trouble on 60 for three.
Tiwary failed with the bat, departing leg before on the sweep to Mendis for 21, but Kohli and Raina responded superbly and quickly seized control after surviving early run-out chances.
Raina was dropped by Jayawardene at slip when he had 19 to his name and made Sri Lanka pay, while Kohli, confident on the drive and exhibiting superb footwork against the spinners, progressed smoothly through the gears and struck 42 from the final 16 balls he faced.
By the time he too was dropped by Pradeep, three balls after reaching his century, India’s victory was all but assured.