PERTH, Australia, Feb 8: Virat Kohli´s aggressive half century led India to a comfortable four-wicket win over Sri Lanka in their Tri-Series limited-overs international on Wednesday.
India reached its victory target of 234 with 20 balls to spare in reply to Sri Lanka´s hard-fought 233-8 after winning the toss and batting first at the WACA Ground.
Kohli hit 77 off 94 balls to lead the Indian chase and offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin added an unbeaten 30 to steer the tail and cap a man of the match performance. He helped to restrict the Sri Lanka batsmen with figures of 3-32.
"It was gripping a little bit, I got a few wickets and at the end, finished it off with the bat," Ashwin said. "One victory on the board is very important, I was desperate to get a win today."
Sachin Tendulkar´s quest for cricket´s first 100th international century continues after he played an Angelo Mathews ball on to his stumps while on 48.
India´s chase started poorly as Virender Sehwag, replacing a rested Gautam Gambhir at the top of the order, continued his horror tour of Australia when he was caught on 10 by Nuwan Kulasekara off a Lasith Malinga ball.
Kohli came to the crease at the departure of Tendulkar, and quickly set about lifting the run rate. But as he accumulated his runs, he began to run out of partners.
Tillakaratne Dilshan athletically caught Rohit Sharma at point for 10 off Thisara Perera, and Suresh Raina was caught by substitute fielder Sachithra Senayake off Mathews for 24.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni looked dangerous, hitting a well-timed boundary before being taken at wide mid-on by Malinga, who raced back for the catch.
Kohli was finally brilliantly run out by a Malinga direct hit when he set off for a risky single at 181-6. Kohli writhed on the ground with a leg cramp after the run out and was subsequently helped from the field.
India appeared vulnerable then with 14 overs to go but tailenders Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja (24 not out) set about coolly collecting the required runs for the win.
Ashwin earlier claimed the wickets of Sri Lanka topscorer Dinesh Chandimal (64) and captain Mahela Jayawardene (23) in a superb display of bowling on the flat, fast WACA pitch.
"We were probably 30-40 runs short," Jayawardene said. "We had our chances, but they played better than us. We kept wickets in hand, we did not play their spinners well, we got bogged down in the middle period. We need to get runs on the board."
Paceman Zaheer Khan rattled Sri Lanka in just the third over when he had Tharanga caught by Tendulkar at first slip for 4.
Kumar Sangakkara came in to share a 62-run partnership with Dilshan for the second wicket before becoming Khan´s second victim, caught behind for 26.
Dilshan´s innings of 48 ended when he was caught at point by Kohli attempting to cut a Jadeja delivery.
Ashwin claimed the important wicket of Jayawardene when he tempted the Sri Lanka skipper into playing a shot that Sharma snapped up at square leg.
Perera made just 7 before being stumped by Dhoni as he advanced up the crease to an Ashwin ball.
Dhoni and Ashwin combined for another stumping dismissal when Chandimal walked up the pitch to a tossed-up delivery, but missed.
Lahiru Thirimanne added just 7 before being run out attempting to snatch an ill-judged single off Ashwin, and Nuwan Kulasekara was out in the final over when he edged a Vinay Kumar delivery.
Sri Lanka plays its next Tri-Series match against Australia at Perth on Friday, before India takes on the Australians at Adelaide on Sunday.