Virat Kohli and Dinesh Karthik smashed magnificent centuries as India warmed up their Champions Trophy campaign with a five-wicket thumping of Sri Lanka in their first practice game at Edgbaston, Birmingham on Saturday.
Kohli (144) teamed up with Dinesh Karthik (106 not out) to rescue India from a wobbly start with a 186-run stand for the fifth wicket in just 23.2 overs to chase down a huge target of 334 with one over to spare. (Read: Dhoni praises Kohli, Karthik for middle order boost)
India were reduced to 62 for three in the 13th over and then to 110 for four in the 21st over before Kohli and Karthik resurrected the innings and sent the Sri Lankan bowlers for a leatherhunt in the second part of their run chase. (See: Match in pics)
Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews used nine bowlers in the 15-a-side warm-up game and all of them were punished by Kohli and Karthik. (Also read: Blog - Sidhuisms don't work at Heathrow immigration)
Kohli, who was coming at the back of a strong performance in the recent Indian Premier League, struck 11 fours and three sixes in his 120-ball flawless innings.
Coming in the second over at the team score of five for one, Kohli was cautious at the start of his innings as the situation demanded but played some delightful strokes after he settled down.
Karthik was more than an able partner to Kohli. He gave more strike to Kohli during their partnership, but at the same time also did not let it go any chance of scoring boundaries. He ended the match in style with a four as India reach 337 for five in 49 overs.
Karthik's unbeaten 81-ball innings was studded with 12 fours and two sixes.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni also got some useful time at the middle as he remained not out on 18 from 17 balls, coming after Kohli's departure in the 44th over. Suresh Raina chipped in with a quickfire 31-ball 34.
India play their second warm-up game against Australia on June 4 in Cardiff before opening their campaign in the main tournament against South Africa at the same venue two days later.
India were in trouble early on a batsmen-friendly pitch as opener Shikhar Dhawan (1) was run out cheaply in the second over as he failed to beat Lahiru Thirimanne's direct hit from mid on.
The other opener Murali Vijay could not contribute much as he was out for 18 from 30 balls in the 10th over, spooning a catch to short extra cover fielder Thirimanne of the bowling of pacer Shaminda Eranga.
Rohit Sharma (5), another player who shone with the bat in the IPL for champion side Mumbai Indians, could not spend much time and lost a chance to acclimatise on English conditions ahead of the main tournament, as he fell in the 13th over.
The recovery job for India, in fact, began with Raina who scored a quickfire 31-ball 34 which was laced with four fours before he was out in the 21st over.
At the fall of Raina, India needed 223 runs for a win at an asking rate approaching eight an over but Kohli and Karthik kept their cool.
Kohli, in particular, stamped his class with some beautiful shots all over the park. When he was out in the 44th over, India needed 38 runs from 37 balls for a win with five wickets in hand.
Earlier, young left-hander Kusal Perera and seasoned Tillekaratne Dilshan took the Indian bowling attack to the cleaners as Sri Lanka posted a mammoth 333 for three.
Dilshan smashed a 78-ball-84 (9x4s, 1x6) while Perera hit 82 off 94 balls (7x4s, 3x6s) as they added 160 runs in 26 overs. The Indian bowlers were unable to dismiss the duo as both retired in order to allow other batsmen get a decent hit out in the middle.
Seamers Pathan (0/45), Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/58), Ishant Sharma (1/41) weren't consistent with their length while spin trioka of Ravichandran Ashwin (0/45), Ravindra Jadeja (0/41) and Amit Mishra (1/53) also failed to make inroads.
With the ball nicely coming onto the bat and not much assistance from the pitch for bowlers, Perera and Dilshan hardly faced any difficulty in hitting through the line from the outset.
It started with a pulled boundary by left-hander Perera off Pathan's first over. The runs started flowing after that as Dilshan launched into Pathan, cover driving him for three boundaries in his second over. With no movement and dishing out military medium stuff, Pathan was smoked for 30 runs in his first spell.
Perera hit Pathan for a straight six and then got a couple of big ones off Ishant - a pull and one over extra cover. With all 15 players being allowed to play as this match doesn't have ODI status, Mahendra Singh Dhoni used as many as seven bowlers.
Perera was the first to reach half century, in 48 balls, while the team's 100 came in the 16th over. Dilshan reached his 50 in the 21st over and it took the veteran opener 45 balls.
Once Perera retired with the score at 160, Mahela Jayawardene came in and chipped in with 30 (3x4s). Dilshan retired at the score 195 while Jayawardene was the first batsman dismissed by Ishant.
Kumar Sangakkara (45, 7x4s) and Dinesh Chandimal (46) also got much needed batting practice.
Story first published on: Saturday, 01 June 2013 14:36 IST