There are several exiting youngsters in international cricket but Virat Kohli is most improved among them. Newly appointed Indian vice captain has made most runs in ODIs than anyone else since World cup 2011 and today, he notched up 5th consecutive half century score, matching Sachin Tendulkar's record (Javed Miandad of Pakistan holds international record with 9 back to back 50+ scores).
And how did Virat do it? Pretty easily to be honest. It was his 4th century in last 5 innings and almost chanceless, barring a tough chance that Thisara Perera couldn't hold onto on his follow-through. Virender Sehwag pounced on life he was given by Tillakaratne Dilshan at 0, assisting Kohli to a 173 run stand while Kumar Sangakkara kept the match interesting with his ton. It was a free scoring game at Hambantota that Indians claimed by 21 run margin, starting their new season on a positive note. Here's how the story unfolded..
The scores :India 314 for 6 wkts in 50 overs.
Sri Lanka 293 for 9 wkts in 50 overs.
Full scorecard : 1st ODI, 21 July 2012.
It was a tricky decision at the toss as not everyone was sure it was a batting wicket at Hambantota in the middle of blustering win. MS Dhoni got lucky with the coin flick, for a change, and elected to bat, also for a change. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir began innings hesitantly, showing almost no communication while running between then wickets. Having survived a dropped chance and a near runout, Gambhir was bowled around his legs by Nuwan Kulasekara to bring Virat Kohli at the crease.
Kohli seems to have found the way to construct an innings in one day cricket and his authority at the crease gave required confidence to Sehwag to go for his shots. Indian pair began to accelerate and then dominate. Visitors called for batting power play at the 17th over mark when Jayawardene had delayed the bowling slot.
Sehwag, always ready to respond to his partner's calls from non-striking end, often senselessly, paid the price as Kohli refused mid-way and stumps were borken. Kohli completed his 12th century, leaving the platform for Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni to finish innings on a high. Raina made important half century to raise solid total on board.
Sri Lankans were off to poor start, losing Tillakaratne Dilshan in the second over but Kumar Sangakkara, continuing on the form he showed against Pakistanis, added 79 runs with Upul Tharanga before R Ashwin separated them. Indian bowlers maintained the stranglehold on home team through the mid-innings but Sangakkara was keeping them in the hunt.
Thisara Perera, famous as Indian nemesis, came to the crease with asking rate exceeding 10 an over. With Sangakkara, Perera counter attacked for 78 runs off just 53 balls but as soon as this stand was broken, home team's defeat was inevitable.
Virat Kohliscored his 12th ODI century, entering list of most ODI centuries. Interestingly, Kohli is fastest to reach 12 tons, by a long way, achieving in his 83rd innings. Marcus Trescothick of England and Upul Tharanga of Sri Lanka reached the figure from 119 innings.