Sri Lanka v India, Week 2

Irfan, Kohli keep India on top

Devashish Fuloria

August 9, 2012

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Virat Kohli runs between the wickets, Sri Lanka v India, Only T20I, Pallekele, August 7, 2012
Virat Kohli © AFP
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Players/Officials: Virat Kohli | Irfan Pathan
Series/Tournaments: India tour of Sri Lanka
Teams: India | Sri Lanka

Virat Kohli
219 runs, avg. 109.50

Kohli continued to be the plunderer-in-chief for India as he followed up his century in the first match of the series with an unbeaten 128 in the fourth ODI, helping India to take an unassailable 3-1 lead in Colombo. Chasing Sri Lanka's 251 on a slowish pitch, India were in trouble when the fourth wicket went down. With another 143 runs required in around 26 overs, a lot depended on how Kohli would manage this chase. During his partnership with Suresh Raina, he let Raina hit the big shots initially, while he held one end solidly. When India took their batting Powerplay, another 80 runs were still required off 15 overs. But Kohli took a cue from Raina's attack on Nuwan Pradeep in the 37th over and started unfurling some big shots of his own. He took 16 off a Lasith Malinga over and then shredded Rangana Herath's over to take the match to an early finish in the 43rd over.

In the only T20I in Pallekele, India were set aback early with Gautam Gambhir's wicket. But Kohli didn't waste any time finding his top gear. He went on a boundary-hitting rampage to bring up his half-century off 32 balls. His 68 was exactly double the next highest score in the match and it ended up being the difference between the teams.


Irfan Pathan appeals during his opening spell, Sri Lanka v India, 1st ODI, Hambantota, July 21, 2012
Irfan Pathan © AFP
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Irfan Pathan
8 wickets, avg. 14.37

Irfan, on his comeback trail, had bowled steadily in the first four games but managed only three wickets on batting friendly tracks. But the cooler air in Pallekele helped Irfan found his main weapon - swing - and he made the most of it. Sri Lanka were looking for a quick start in chase of 295, but Irfan removed both openers and then added three lower-order wickets to finish with a five-wicket haul - the first by an India fast bowler in more than five years. During India's batting earlier, Irfan had again bolstered his batting credentials during a 77-run stand with captain MS Dhoni that lifted India from a spot of bother to finally get to a strong total.

In the T20 match, India had scored 155, their lowest total against Sri Lanka in the shortest format and needed a good start with the ball. Pathan turned the clock back to his earlier years as he got the ball to curve into the right-handers. He removed Sri Lanka's top three in his first three overs and other bowlers followed his suit as India registered a comfortable win.

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo

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