Kohli fashions a miracle chase for India

Hobart: Virat Kohli produced a career-best unbeaten 133 to fashion India’s miracle chase of getting 321 in just 36.4 overs against Sri Lanka in the 11th ODI here Tuesday and kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the finals of CB Series.

India needed to achieve the target in 40 overs to gain a bonus point. But Man of the Match Kohli’s 86-ball knock, which was studded with 16 fours and two sixes, ensured India achieved the target with ridiculous ease at the Bellerive Oval.

Kohli put on 115 with Gautam Gambhir (63 off 64) and 120 with Suresh Raina (40 off 24 balls) to blow apart the Sri Lankan attack.

All eyes will now be on Friday’s last pool match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and Indians will hope Australians beat the Sri Lankans so they can progress to play the home side in the best-of-three final series.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s decision to put Sri Lanka in to bat first looked a disaster. Sri Lanka, riding on twin centuries from former captains Tillekaratne Dilshan (160 not out) and Kumar Sangakkara (105 from 87 balls), made things tough for India.

But the script changed when the Indians came out to bat. Virender Sehwag (30 off 16 balls) and Sachin Tendulkar (39) kept India ahead of the required run rate. Shewag departed in his attempt to heave a short ball from Farveez Maharoof and Dilshan took a good low catch.

And when Tendulkar was trapped lbw by Lasith Malinga, India were 86 for two in 9.2 overs.

Malinga, however, had a forgetful night as his 24-run over in the 35th over changed the course of the match. Kohli got two off the first ball, which got him his ninth century, and then smashed a six and four consecutive fours as India jumped from 279 to 303 in just six balls. Malinga finished with one for 96.

Earlier in the day, Dilshan (160 not out) and Sangakkara (105 from 87 balls) put on a record second-wicket partnership of 200 runs for Sri Lanka. Their century-double was also the biggest ODI partnership at the Bellerive. Dilshan’s 160 is also the second highest at the venue after Adam Gilchrist’s 172.

India now have to hope that Australia beat Sri Lanka in the last match before the finals at the Melbourne Cricket Ground Friday.

India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s decision to put Sri Lanka in to bat back-fired as Dilshan and Sangakkara piled on the runs with ease on a batsman-friendly wicket in cool conditions.

Dilshan smacked 11 fours and three sixes, while Sangakkara came back in form with a sublime knock that included eight fours and two sixes.
Dilshan, playing with a sore thumb, reached his century off 132 balls and his 150 just 27 balls later.

There was more drama in the evening as a power failure shut out one of Bellerive’s light towers, the scoreboard and the Nine Network’s broadcast equipment. It held up play between innings for nearly an hour.