With both sets of players enjoying themselves on a bright and sunny day in Birmingham on Saturday (June 1), Virat Kohli and Dinesh Karthik made the difference with stroke-filled centuries to lead India to a comfortable five-wicket win over Sri Lanka with an over to spare in their ICC Champions Trophy 2013 warm-up game.
Kohli (144) and Karthik (106 not out) made up for a shoddy Indian bowling performance with a 186-run stand for the fifth wicket that helped India chase down the 334-run target. The two got together at 110 for 4 in the 21st over, and batted with a lot of composure and poise even as the asking rate touched almost ten runs an over with 20 overs to spare.
Karthik, slow to begin with, gained confidence and composure as the innings progressed. He blasted 12 fours and two sixes even as the Sri Lankan bowlers failed to stop a rampaging Kohli at the other end.
Kohli, who brought up his century in the 37th over, didn’t drop guard even after getting to the landmark. He was eventually dismissed in the 44th over, but by then the damage had been done.
However, it wasn’t entirely smooth sailing for India as the bowlers struggled for consistency after Mahendra Singh Dhoni opted to field. The new ball bowlers – Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Irfan Pathan – failed to make early inroads. But credit for that should be given to Kushal Perera, who threw the bowlers out of gear with an aggressive approach.
With Tillakaratne Dilshan (retired not out on 84) at the other end, Kusal batted without any hint of pressure and eventually retired on 82 to make way for the middle-order batsmen to get a hit. Apart from Vinay Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja, who beat the batsmen on a number of occasions, none of the other Indian bowlers were able to make a mark.
Mahela Jayawardena (30), Kumar Sangakkara (45) and Dinesh Chandimal (46) all had productive stints in the middle before being dismissed. And in the end, an unbeaten 16-ball 26 from Thisara Perera lifted them to their imposing total.
While the batsmen made merry, the bowling attack that missed the spearhead – Lasith Malinga – was handled with ease by Kohli. After the initial burst with the new ball that saw Shikhar Dhawan (1), Murali Vijay (18) and Rohit Sharma (5) dismissed cheaply, Sri Lanka came under Kohli’s wheel before Karthik finished it off with a boundary. Suresh Raina (34) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (18 not out) too chipped in with useful knocks.
(Courtesy: International Cricket Council)