Kolkata: Brilliant tons by Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli helped India beat Sri Lanka by 7 wickets in the fourth ODI at Kolkata and win the five match series 3-1. Gautam Gambhir remained unbeaten on 150.
Batting first after winning the toss, the visitors set a new record for the highest ODI total at Eden Gardens as they finished at a mammoth 315/6. However, the Indians chased down the improbable target with ease even as openers Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar had fallen with just 23 runs on the board.
A partnership of 224 between Gambhir and Kohli ensured that India will go into the fifth and final ODI at Delhi with the series already in the bag.
Chasing 316 for victory, the Indian innings got off to a good start as Virender Sehwag, batting in familiar fashion, hit a couple of fours off Perera to take India to 12/0 at the end of first over.
However, the hard-hitting opener was out in the very next over as he was caught by Dilshan off Suranga Lakmal at backward point for 10.
Moments after losing Sehwag, India suffered another huge blow as master blaster Sachin Tendulkar departed for 8, giving Lakmal his second wicket of the innings. Tendulkar was caught at cover point by Suraj Randiv.
Virat Kohli, who came in at the fall of Tendulkar’s wicket, took the attack to the opposition as he unleashed a series of boundaries to quickly put India back in the hunt. At the receiving end was Malinga, who gave away 16 runs in one over, all in the form of boundaries.
India crossed the 50-run mark in the 7th over.
The Gambhir-Kohli combine brought up its 100-run partnership as Kohli drove Jayasuriya for a single. The shot also brought up Kohli’s fifty.
Moments after Virat Kohli brought up his fifty, Gautam Gambhir followed suit with a single off Jayasuriya. India’s 150 came up in the 23rd over.
The partnership between Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli continued to flourish as they took India past the 200-run mark in the 32nd over of the innings.
Virat Kohli went on to complete his first ODI ton and Gambhir eclipsed the three figure mark off the very next delivery.
Kohli’s century included 11 fours while Gambhir hit 8 fours in his innings.
There was another twist in the tale, however, as after a brilliant partnership of 224 with Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli departed at an individual score of 107.
Kohli was out caught by substitute fielder Pushpakumara as he tried to hit another one out of the park.
Gambhir, however, kept up the momentum as he along with Dinesh Karthik continued India’s march towards the victory target. The duo brought up their fifth run partnership.
Earlier, Sri Lanka made a change to their playing eleven from the last game as Thissara Perera made it to the side in place of Welegedara, who had picked up an injury in the last game.
Having won the toss and elected to bat first, Sri Lanka started cautiously as the Indian opening bowlers Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra kept a tight line and length.
Even the explosive Tillakaratne Dilshan was not allowed to break free. The bowling was so disciplined that the visitors could not hit a single delivery past the boundary ropes for the first 5 overs and managed to put up just 9 runs on the board during that period.
Dilshan and his opening partner Tharanga then tried to break the shackles as they smashed Nehra for 13 runs in the 6th over.
The momentum was kept up in Nehra’s next over as well as Tharanga clobbered him for a six but the bowler had the last laugh as he managed to get the hard-hitting Dilshan out off the last delivery of the eighth over. Dilshan was caught by Virat Kohli at long leg for just 9.
The wicket brought in another fiery batsman in Sanath Jayasuriya.
The Lankan veteran displayed no intentions of holding back as he sent two of the first three deliveries that he faced past the boundary ropes.
Sri Lanka brought up their 50 in the twelfth over as Tharanga greeted Ishant Sharma, who came in as the first change bowler in place of Ashish Nehra, with a four. Ishant’s first over produced 20 runs including 5 fours.
India got rid off the dangerous Jayasuriya in the next over from Zaheer as Sachin Tendulkar lunged forward to pouch one off the southpaw’s blade at first slip. Jayasuriya’s 15 runs included three hits past the boundary rope.
Kumar Sangakkara, who came in at the fall of the veteran batsman’s wicket, got a lease of life early on as Harbhajan Singh dropped a skier to deny Ishant Sharma his first wicket of the game.
Tharanga rubbed salt into the lanky bowler’s wounds as he completed his fifty with a clean hit for four off the very next delivery.
The visitors eclipsed the 100-run mark in the 18th over.
The duo of Sangakkara and Tharanga went on to consolidate Sri Lanka’s position as they completed their 50 partnership.
Moments after Sangakkara reached his 50, Tharanga also completed a well compiled century with a single off Suresh Raina. Tharanga’s ton was studded with 15 hits past the boundary rope including a huge six.
The home team got another crucial breakthrough as skipper Kumar Sangakkara was foxed by Harbhajan Singh and Dinesh Karthik did the rest behind the wickets. Sangakkara fell short of the crease at a score of 60.
Just a few overs later, Zaheer Khan provided India the all important breakthrough as he clean bowled centurion Upul Tharanga for 118.
But, the wicket brought little respite for the Indian bowlers as debutant Thisarra Perera, who came in at number six, went after the bowling from the word go.
However, the onslaught did not last long as Perera was removed by Nehra but not before he had smashed 31 off just 14 deliveries.
Jayawardene was the next one to go as he was run-out with the visitors’ total at 287/6.
The Lankan 300 came up in the 49th over of their innings.
In a reminder of a 2008 IPL game played at the same ground, one of the tower lights at the ground fazed out in the last over and the players were forced to take a breather just before the finish of the innings.
After about 20 minutes of waiting, the lights came back and play resumed. Sri Lanka played the last four deliveries of their innings and took their score to a competitive 315.