Kohli indian cricketIndia stuttered for a while after losing debutant Kedar Jadhav in the 40th over. From a cozy position, they began losing wickets and the flow of runs stopped against some fine bowling by Ajantha Mendis. Beginning with the wicket of Robin Uthappa, Mendis not only scalped 4 wickets, he made the scoring difficult. With Mathews and Dilshan also causing concern, India looked in trouble as they lost their seventh wicket, when Ashwin was trapped LBW by Mendis in the 44th over. With Mendis on target, free scoring became difficult. From a comfortable position, Indian batsmen seemed uncertain, when 56 were required for victory in 40 balls. Virat Kohli was the sole batsman left and though Akshar Patel had been known to hit the ball around, it wasn’t exactly a cake-walk for India at that juncture. But Kohli drew on his reserves and Patel did score some useful runs as the duo carried India to a fine 3-wicket victory in the 49th over. But ask Virat Kohli; it wasn’t as easy as it sounds now. It could have been different if Kohli had not resorted to some bold aerial shots towards the close. Akshar Patel lived up to his fast-gaining reputation of a quality all-rounder as he not only kept company with his skipper but also made invaluable 17 runs. In the end, India’s win had the authoritative stamp of Kohli’s batting superiority that saw the day for India. For Sri Lanka it was a truly disappointing end to the 5-match series, except that Angelo Mathews really had India under pressure. In an explosive batting display towards the innings end, Mathews blasted the Indian bowlers in adding 73 in the last 5 overs with his colleagues and played an important part in throttling India’s batting after the 40th over with Mendis and Dilshan. Both skippers scored an identical 139 not out, but Mathews was rightly adjudged as the player of the match in the end.

Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first. After Kushal Perera’s miserable show in previous ODI innings, Sri Lanka brought in a debutant opener, Niroshan Dickwella, who had made his test match debut against South Africa less than 4 months ago. But he failed in his first ODI outing against India. By the 19th over, Sri Lanka had lost their top four batsmen at 85 on the board. Angelo Mathews took control at this point and together with Lahiru Thirimanne, the Sri Lanka skipper added 128 for the fifth wicket. After Thirimanne got out, Mathews continued with the tail-enders and involved Thisara Perera in another useful partnership of 45 for the sixth wicket and 27 runs for the seventh with Prasanna. Mathews did bulk of the scoring and took Sri Lanka to a very competitive 286 at the end of 50 overs. The skipper remained unbeaten at the end for 139 off 116 balls with 6 fours and 10 mighty sixes.

With their current batting form, the chase of 287 did not look too difficult for Kohli’s men. But India lost early wickets and for the first time in the series, both openers failed. At 14/2, Kohli had Ambati Rayudu for company and the two batsmen dealt with the Sri Lankan bowlers on their own terms in taking the score to 150 by the 28th over. Now 137 runs remained to be scored in about 22 overs and it appeared that India would reach the target with ease. It was at this point that Sri Lanka’s bowling tightened the noose. With Ajantha Mendis tying down the batsmen with able support from skipper Mathews and Tilakratne Dilshan, Indian wickets began to tumble at one end to Kohli’s utter dismay at the other end. This was the best phase of Lanka’s cricket in the series, when the bowlers from the Island Nation, succeeded in taking the strike away from Kohli. Between the 36th and 45th overs, Kohli got to face only 16 deliveries out of 60 as debutant Kedar Jadhav, Stuart Binny and R Ashwin all lost their wickets to Ajantha Mendis. During this period, though Kohli completed his 21st ODI hundred, the asking rate climbed to dangerous levels. When India required 47 off the last five overs, Kohli made a bold move to hoist a six and a four off Mendis in one over and blasted two more sixes off the same bowler to take India to safety. With the no.9 batsman Akshar Patel giving Kohli good company, India reached the target with 8 balls remaining. Kohli remained not out for 139, the same unbeaten score of his Sri Lankan counterpart Mathews, as India registered a 3-wicket victory and completed a 5-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka.