Gambhir, Kohli guide India to series-clinching win

Updated: 25 December 2009 07:59 IST

Gautam Gambhir notched up his 7th ton while Virat Kohli struck his maiden to script India's series-clinching 7-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the 4th ODI.

Gambhir, Kohli guide India to series-clinching win

Kolkata:

Gautam Gambhir notched up his seventh century while Virat Kohli struck his maiden to script India's series-clinching seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the fourth ODI on Thursday.

Chasing 316 to win the tie and seal the series with one match to go, India found themselves in the morass at 23 for two before Gambhir (150 not out) starred in an 224-run stand with Virat Kohli (107) to inject fresh life into the chase and then completed the formality in Dinesh Karthik's (19 not out) company.

The wobbly start notwithstanding, it was a clinical chase by the Indians who cruised to 317 for three in 48.1 overs to go 3-1 up in the five-match series.

Gambhir, who became the newest member of the 3000-run club, faced 137 balls in his controlled innings, hitting 14 fours in the process.

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Kohli's mature 114-ball knock was studded with 11 fours and a six.

Earlier, Upul Tharanga (118) hit his seventh ODI century and starred in a 126-run partnership with captain Kumar Sangakkara (60) as Sri Lanka posted 315 for six, the highest score at the venue till India overwhelmed it.

After Tharanga and Sangakkara had laid the perfect platform for a late charge, debutant Thissara Perera hit a 14-ball 31 to make the most of the batting powerplay and help the visitors cross the 300-mark.

Both the teams now move to Delhi for the fifth and final ODI on Sunday.

India's chase got off to a wobbly start and the Eden Gardens crowd watched in horror as the home side lost both their openers inside four overs with Suranga Lakmal, playing only his second ODI, being the party-pooper.

Stand-in skipper Virender Sewag (10) had begun with a bang, sending the first ball of the innings from Perera to the rope, a treatment he repeated four balls later.

Lakmal, however, had other ideas and his fourth delivery took an edge off Sehwag's blade and nestled into point fielder Tillakaratne Dilshan's safe palms.

In his next over, Lakmal induced Sachin Tendulkar (8) for a doomed cut and Suraj Randiv sent groans across the stadium when he took the catch at cover point.

Their team in dire strait, Kohli and Gambhir showed tremendous maturity as they rebuilt the innings, brick by brick, with some sensible cricket.

For someone who owes his place in the side to Yuvraj Singh's finger injury, Kohli asserted himself with four successive boundaries off Lasith Malinga's first over.

Subsequent overs were not equally rewarding but both ran hard to maintain the run rate.

Kohli fell soon after his century but by then, India had the match in the bag.

Earlier, the 126-run stand between Tharanga and Sangakkara was the cornerstone of the Sri Lankan innings and the late charge was provided by Thissara Perera.

Just when the Lankan innings was getting over, the floodlights near the giant scorecard went off, delaying the proceedings for about 23 minutes, much to the embarrassment of the organisers.

Dropped on seven by Ashish Nehra off his own bowling, Tharanga went on to hit 118 from 128 balls with 14 boundaries and two sixes.

With hard-hitting opener Tillakaratne Dilshan (9) and Sanath Jayasuriya (15) coming a cropper, Tharanga and Sangakkara did the bulk of Lankan scoring during their 142-ball stand.

Sangakkara made 60 from 72 balls before he was stumped off the bowling of Harbhajan.

After Sangakkara won the toss and decided to set a target, home side bowlers Nehra and Zaheer Khan started off beautifully, restraining the destructive opening duo of Dilshan and Tharanga.

In fact, Nehra started off with a maiden over -- India's first in the ongoing five-match series.

The Lankans had a rather sluggish start with just nine coming from the first five overs but soon Tharanga began to open up after he was given a life.

He was at his explosive best when he smashed five boundaries in the first over of Ishant Sharma, who came in as one-change after Nehra had given the breakthrough by taking the prized scalp of Dilshan.

A superb catch by Virat Kohli at long leg brought the end of Dilshan as Sri Lanka lost their first wicket for 31 after eight overs.

Back in the side, Jayasuriya looked in fine nick in his run-a-ball 15 before he edged Zaheer in the first slip.

At 72 for two, Sri Lanka almost lost another wicket but Harbhajan dropped Sangakkara on zero and the Lankan skipper went on to play a supporting role to centurion Tharanga. The left-handed duo played some sensible cricket with Tharanga playing the role of an aggressor.

Tharanga notched up his seventh ODI century from 102 balls and Perera's late cameo then lifted the Lankan totals past the 300-mark.

Zaheer and Nehra took two wickets each with the former being the best Indian bowler of the day.



Topics : Cricket Sreesanth
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