Perth: R Ashwin came up with a fine all-round display, picking up 3 for 32 as well as scoring an unbeaten 30 to help India beat Sri Lanka by four wickets in the second match of the CB series at the WACA on Wednesday. Virat Kohli was the highest scorer of the match, with a valuable 77 amid another less than impressive batting display from India.
Chasing a modest total of 234, India got off to the worst possible start as they lost Virender Sehwag for 10. A fluent-looking Sachin Tendulkar was then joined by Kohli and the duo started building India's innings. Tendulkar was particularly impressive in his shot selection until Angelo Mathews breached his defences on 48, and after that big wicket India’s middle order struggled to adapt.
Rohit Sharma (10) cut a short ball to point, Suresh Raina (24) again succumbed to the short ball and the captain MS Dhoni (4) top-edged a pull to mid-on. Kohli pressed past the half-century mark and was playing very well despite suffering from cramps, but his run out for 77 left India needing 53 runs with four wickets in hand. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja kept their cool to take India across the finish line with a partnership of 53 in 10.4 overs, sealed when three Sri Lankan fielders failed to judge a miscued shot by Ashwin in the 47th over.
Earlier, Ashwin's canny variations had proved a thorn in Sri Lanka's side as they struggled to post an imposing total after winning the toss and electing to bat.
An excellent Perth pitch provided something for both batsmen and bowlers, with Tillakaratne Dilshan threatening early on but ultimately getting pegged back by Ashwin and Zaheer Khan, as India's bowlers made the most of conditions that offered both seam and bounce.
Zaheer rattled Sri Lanka in the third over when he had Upul Tharanga caught by Tendulkar at first slip for just 4. Kumar Sangakkara shared a 62-run partnership with Dilshan for the second wicket before becoming Khan's second victim, caught behind brilliantly by a diving Dhoni for 26.
The batting Powerplay brought just 11 runs as Sangakkara’s wicket, and a lazy shot from Dilshan (48) soon after undid all the hard work. These two dismissals ensured that Mahela Jayawardene's side were continually in a rebuilding phase, and the sequence continued when Jayawardene himself and Thisara Perera both fell to Ashwin.
Despite Dinesh Chandimal's best efforts the batting Powerplay produced just 23 runs and a couple of wickets as some tight Indian bowling never allowed Sri Lanka to break free. Dhoni and Ashwin combined for another stumping dismissal when Chandimal walked up the pitch to a tossed-up delivery, but missed.
Lahiru Thirimanne added just 7 before being run out attempting to snatch an ill-judged single off Ashwin, and Nuwan Kulasekara was out in the final over when he edged a Vinay Kumar delivery to Rohit Sharma.