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Gambhir, Kohli seal series for India
by Rohit Sakunia


Scorecard:India v Sri Lanka
Player:WU Tharanga, G Gambhir, V Kohli
Event:Sri Lanka in India 2009/10

DateLine: 24th December 2009

 

It was one of those games where two players from both the sides dominated play. For Sri Lanka it was Upul Tharanga with the bat and Suranga Lakmal with the leather. Tharanga scored his maiden 100 and made sure the Lankans go past the highest score made on the Eden Gardens and then Lakmal dismissed two Indian openers to send a shiver down the spines of all sitting at the ground.

 

But it was the Indian duo of Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir who sealed the day and in the process won the series for India. They played like champions and treated the tourists bowling attack with utter disdain. The victory became further special considering the fact that Indians won the match sans the presence of MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, two players who have been pivotal to India's cause off late. With the match, the Indians won another series at home and Sri Lanka will go back empty handed once again.

 

Chasing a mammoth 316 to win and lift the 5 match ODI series, India did not have a great start to boost them. By the end of the fourth over, both the openers Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag were back in the hut, each after displaying the kind of classy touch they were in. Sehwag picked up two graceful boundaries of the first over from the debutante Thissara Perera before falling to a nothing shot off Suranga Lakmal. Tendulkar also played a couple of real gorgeous ones before falling to rank short delivery from the same bowler who picked Sehwag.

 

With the two big wickets in his kitty, Lakmal would have been the man of the moment had the Delhi duo of Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir not staged a comeback with a magnificent 224 run partnership which set India's another ODI series win at home.

 

From 23 for 2 in the fourth over, the two Delhi batsmen, Kohli and Gambhir, counterattacked. There was no need for either to go aerial and both knew that within the first few overs the ball would turn into a soap, making it extremely difficult for the bowlers to grip the leather. Debutant Thissara Perera went for 28 in his four overs, and was replaced by the slinger Lasith Malinga, who kind of helped Kohli open up. The right-hand batsman flicked him for two boundaries in the leg side, then crashed him through the off side for two more off consecutive deliveries in his first over. This was the ninth over and India had 70 on the board. The chase was on considering Sri Lanka hardly had a bowler who could have taken care of the dew factor.

 

Seeing that the speedsters werent working and were hardly troubling the Indian duo, Sangakkara turned to spin but they were the ones who struggled the most because of dew. In his second over Suraj Randiv bowled one down the leg side, and Kohli took advantage. In the next couple of overs both the batsmen scaled their fifties. What would have really troubled the Lankan skipper more than anything else was the manner in which runs were scored by the two batsmen. None of the bowlers even had a semblance of something that disturbed the flow of the two batsmen. The runs came easily as the duo looked thoroughly professional in the chase.

 

Both the batsmen matched each others run scoring and in the 37th over, the duo in a justified manner reached their centuries in consecutive deliveries. For Virat Kohli this was the first ton and immediately after reaching the mark, he started to go after the bowling. Perera who had faced a lot of heat till now, was slammed for a huge six over fine-leg. The roller coaster ride though fell short when in a bid to post another maximum of off-spinner Randiv, Kohli found Pushpakumara on the long-on fence.

 

Gambhir took over the mantle of scoring once Kohli departed. Two boundaries of Perera made sure for the first time in in the innings the required run-rate came below 6. Runs then became regular as none of the Lankan bowlers came even close to finding a wicket or a good over. Gambhir continued to play around with the bowling and batting alongside Karthik finished the game with 7 wickets in hand.

 

Earlier, batting first after winning the toss, Sri Lanka did not start with the usual firecrackers. A plan was in place and for the first five overs Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan played according to it. Both the left-arm seamers kept two men on the leg-side boundary for Dilshan while the third man was left vacant, but no room was given and neither was he offered anything to drive. The result of this was that the scorecard read only 9 runs after five overs.

 

Then Dilshan got going, hitting Nehra for a boundary as the left-hand seamer for the first time in his spell, provided an iota of room. In the same over, Tharanga also got into the act, hitting Nehra for two boundaries on the off-side. That though was the one-off bad over in the first 10 overs as both seamers got back to business after that.

 

The results came immediately as Nehra forced an unusually silent Dilshan to lift a short one, as Virat Kohli took a good catch at backward square-leg. Sri Lanka's most successful opener Sanath Jayasuriya walked in and looked set for business from the word go. Two boundaries of Ishant meant that he looked set to amend his failures off-late. But Zaheer, who was in between of a fantastic spell, got Sanath to edge one for Sachin Tendulkar at slip. It could had been further disastrous for the tourists had Harbhajan caught a sitter at third-men when Sangakkara was on zero.

 

The Indians had to pay for the dropped chance as Sangakkara and Tharanga took the game away from the hosts adding 126 in less than 24 overs. The loose balls were punished as Tharanga started to pick regular boundaries. Ishant faced the maximum brunt being hit for boundaries all around the park. Both the left-handers drove and cut the right-armer as he kept on bowling on the wrong areas.

 

The duo consolidated perfectly and continued picking up the odd boundaries to keep the run-rate going. Tharanga continued to trouble Ishant, hitting back-to-back boundaries in his fifth over. When Ishant went out of the attack, his figures read a paltry 0 for 55 in six overs. Tharanga also scaled his 100 during the partnership and Sangakkara reached his fifty. Sooner though he got a tad too adventurous, looking to paddle Harbhajan only to lose his balance and get out stumped.

 

The platform though was laid for the final assault and a new Avatar was ready to molest the Indian bowlers. Though Zaheer and Nehra came back with good finishing spells, the hosts were shocked by a debutant, Thissara Perera who smashed 31 off 14 balls. It was Nehra who finally removed him and had he been there till the end, the total would have surely skyrocketed to closer to 350. Nehra also ran out Mahela Jayawardene but by then the damage was already done and Lanka had with them a solid total of 315 to defend.

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