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December 24, 2009
Virender Sehwag, who oversaw India's last two one-day international wins, believed his team was handed an advantage when Kumar Sangakkara opted to bat. The pitch in Kolkata was expected to play slow and low but the dew was expected to counter that advantage for the team batting first. In the end, Sehwag's hunch proved right as Gautam Gambhir posted the highest individual score at the Eden Gardens to help India register the highest successful chase at the venue.
"We knew dew would be a factor here, in this weather. Even if I had won the toss, we would have fielded," said Sehwag after India won the series 3-1. "It [Sangakkara's decision] was good for my spinners who could grip the ball when it was dry. The spinners did well for us."
India, set a target of 316, were jolted early when rookie fast bowler Suranga Lakmal dismissed Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, but the chase was soon resurrected by centurions Gambhir and Virat Kohli. "Myself and Sachin Tendulkar got out early but Gauti and Virat batted very well," said Sehwag. "Especially Kohli has done well. He got fifties in the Champions Trophy and against Sri Lanka in his last game. We all knew he had the talent and it was just a matter of performing at the international level."
Sangakkara gave credit to Lakmal, playing his second ODI, and young offspinner Suraj Randiv, but rued the lack of support in the field. Sri Lanka had managed a large score, thanks largely to opener Upul Tharanga's seventh ODI century, but they were outclassed by Gambhir and Kohli.
"We started out really well, with Upul Tharanga batting really well and the rest batting around him. Lakmal and Randiv bowled well but there wasn't enough back-up," said Sangakkara. "The fast bowlers should have been more disciplined. Gautam and Kohli batted quite brilliantly."
However, Sangakkara credited the crop of youngsters to have made an appearance in the one-day leg of the tour owing to injuries and poor form from the seniors. Randiv has impressed in the ODIs and Lakmal, after a poor debut, had a decent outing in Kolkata. "We had so many debutants on our tour and some of them have really stepped up and that promises better things on future tours," said Sangakkara. "This is the most competitive we have been in India since I debuted."
Gambhir, the Man of the Match for his unbeaten 150, heaped praise on young Kohli who batted his way to a maiden century. He too concurred with Sehwag's opinion of fielding. "We knew the dew would be a big factor. Even when we last played here, Graeme Smith got a hundred and it was hard for the bowlers," he said. "We lost two wickets but we had someone who could play positively and score quickly and that allowed me to keep going. The way Virat batted took a lot of pressure off my shoulders and we told ourselves to see what was happening after 35 overs, but then we didn't need to take the Powerplay.
"I've been pretty unfortunate in the last two innings but I am happy to play a good knock to help us win the series. And its been fantastic to get a hundred in Eden Gardens."
The dead rubber will be played in Delhi on December 27.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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