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Mar 13, 2012 at 11:38pm IST

Bowlers script 50-run victory for India

Mirpur: Irfan Pathan led the Indian attack with a four-wicket haul with R Ashwin and Vinay Kumar taking three wickets apiece, which scripted a middle-order collapse for Sri Lanka to help India recover and register a 50-run victory in their first match of the Asia Cup on Tuesday.

Sri Lanka were on course to chase down India's 304 as they reached 196 for 3 in 35 overs, but losing 4 wickets for 31 runs in the batting powerplay proved decisive in the end. Ashwin (3 for 39) and Vinay (3 for 55) took two wickets each in that period to reduce the Lankans to 227 for 7 in 40 overs. Pathan then returned in the final overs to take his tally to 4 for 32 with the last Sri Lankan wicket of Seekkuge Prasanna.

Earlier, India's twin centurions Virat Kohli (108) and Gautam Gambhir (100) put up a 205-run stand for the second wicket to set India up for a huge total. En route his century, Kohli became the fastest man to reach 10 ODI centuries, reaching the landmark in his 83rd match.

Bowlers script 50-run victory for India

Irfan Pathan led the Indian attack with a four-wicket haul against Sri Lanka on Tuesday. (AP PHOTO)

MS Dhoni (46 not out off 26 balls) and Suresh Raina (30 not out off 17 balls) then hammered the Lankan attack for 78 runs in the final 7.1 overs to cross the 300-run mark with a six from Raina off the last ball of the 50th over.

Sachin Tendulkar (6) fell early after Sri Lanka put India in to bat. He hit a full toss straight to Jayawardene in short cover; however, the maestro wasn't convinced if the catch was clean and stood his ground. The umpires brought the third umpire into play, who upheld the decision after replays showed nothing wrong with the dismissal.

Thereafter, it was a Kohli-Gambhir show as they stole the limelight by bringing up the 10th ODI centuries of their respective careers.

The Sri Lankan bowlers had no answers for Kohli who scored his second consecutive century in Mirpur after punishing the Bangladeshis in the World Cup opener last year. He and Gambhir fell soon after reaching the landmark but Dhoni and Raina ensured boundaries came thick and fast in the last seven overs to take India's total to 304 for 3.

The islanders lost Tillakaratne Dilshan (7) early in their chase but Jayawardene played a captain's knock of 78 in just 59 balls, which included 10 fours and two sixes. After Dilshan was sent back by Pathan, Jayawardene joined hands with Kumar Sangakkara for a 93-run second-wicket partnership in a 14-over period that saw some delectable strokeplay, especially from the skipper.

The Sri Lankans merrily moved to 124 for 1 in just the 19th over when Jayawardene's cheeky glide led to his downfall. The delivery from Pathan kissed the face of his bat to settle inside the gloves of a diving Dhoni. The wicket got India a foot inside the door as they struck 28 runs later when Ashwin foxed Dinesh Chandimal (13) to bowl him with his carrom ball.

At 152 for 3, Sangakkara found an ally in Lahiru Thirimanne and the duo started bringing the chase back on track by milking the Indian spinners. It was evident that Sri Lanka were eyeing the batting powerplay, especially in the way they approached the chase from that point on.

However, Ashwin sent Sangakkara (65) and Thirimanne (29) back in the first over of the powerplay, while Vinay took care of Nuwan Kulasekara (11) and Chamara Kapugedara (0) in the fourth. Maharoof tried to be a bit adventurous; however, it proved to be futile in the end.

The defending champions will next take on Bangladesh, who lost to Pakistan in the opening match, on March 16.

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