Gautam Gambhir (150*) and Virat Kohli (107) scored their career best knocks to ease India to a 7-wicket win in the 4th ODI at Kolkata after being set a high target of 315. India got to the target with 11 balls to spare and with that has sealed the 5-ODI Series 3-1.
Sri Lanka elected to bat first after winning the toss just like in the last ODI at Cuttack. After a stifled start, Sri Lanka lost the wickets of Dilshan for 9 (caught brilliantly at deep squareleg by a diving Kohli) and one down Sanath Jayasuriya for 15 (edging a swinging Zaheer delivery to first slip) inside 15 overs. Upul Tharanga was doing all the scoring with the momentum coming from an over from Ishant Sharma which leaked 20 runs.
Tharanga added 126 runs with Kumar Sangakkara (60 from 72 balls with 5 fours) to set the platform for a big total. Sangakkara just like in the previous game got stumped out, this time lost his balance in a predetermined paddle sweep after shuffling a long way across to a Harbhajan Singh top spinner. Tharanga stayed a little longer after Sanga’s exit to score his 7th ODI hundred. In the 43rd over, he missed a slog off Zaheer to get bowled for 118 (from 128 balls with 14 fours and 2 sixes) to leave SL at 234 for 4.
Good contributions from debutant Thissara Perera (31 from 14 balls), Mahela Jayawardene (33 from 30 balls) and Thilina Kandamby (23 from 15 balls) helped Sri Lanka reach 315 for 6. There was a floodlight failure in the ground during the last overs of the Lankan innings.
Ishant Sharma received a pasting going for 67 in his 7 overs. Zaheer Khan looked good as he was getting the ball to swing around because of the vast open areas around the stadium because of the demolition of one or two stands. He finished with 2 for 49. Harbhajan and Jadeja were restrictive in their bowling.
In their chase, India lost the two big wickets of Sehwag and Tendulkar very early through aggressive shots caught on the off side. At 23 for 2, a lot of people would have thought that the game was over considering that India didn’t have the match winning Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni in the line up. However, it was an easy wicket to bat on and the dew was expected to cause plenty of headaches to the bowling side. The Sri Lankans bowlers have looked very ordinary and it was just a matter of self belief for the remaining Indian batsmen.
The ever-so-consistent Gautam Gambhir got his younger Delhi partner Virat Kohli bat in a sensible manner to tick away at the target. Kohli played free flowing shots to sustain the momentum and along with Gautam Gambhir stole plenty of short singles. The two batsmen put on a massive stand of 224 for the 3rd wicket before Kohli as usual holed out trying to clear the long on field. The young man was determined though to capitalize on his start and register a maiden ODI hundred. He got out for 107 from 114 balls with 11 fours and a six.
When Kohli got out, India was cruising through at 247 for 3 in the 40th over. Gautam Gambhir continued to stay there solidly and in the company of the busy Dinesh Karthik wrapped up the match at the start of the 48th over. Gambhir remained unbeaten on 150 from 137 balls with 14 fours. It equalled his previous best score of 150 which was also against Sri Lanka. Like Tharanga, this was Gautam Gambhir’s 7th ODI hundred. Interestingly, India never really went for the big hitting and yet won the match so easily. The Man of the Match went to Gautam Gambhir who asked Virat Kohli to share the award with him.