Colombo: Virat Kohli led the way with a century as India defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets in the fifth and final One-Day International (ODI) at the R.Premadasa Stadium here on Sunday evening.
Chasing a target of 239 runs, India crossed the line with 21 balls to spare.
Kohli remained unbeaten on 110 runs off 116 balls, smashing nine boundaries along the way. He was involved in a 108-run partnership with Kedar Jadhav, who scored 63 runs off 73 balls before being caught behind off Wanidu Hasaranga’s bowling a couple of balls before the end.
This was the 30th century of Kohli’s ODI career.
India thus whitewashed Sri Lanka 5-0 in the series. The visitors, who remained dominant throughout the series, produced another superb performance during Sunday’s match, dominating the Sri Lankans in all departments of the game.
Defending a low total, opening pacers Lasith Malinga and Vishwa Fernando gave the hosts some hope by removing Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma respectively early in the Indian innings.
But Kohli strode to the middle and added 99 runs with Manish Pandey to steady the Indian innings. Pandey scored a steady 36 off 53 balls before being dismissed while trying to go for a big hit off Malinda Pushpakumara’s bowling.
However, any hope of an unlikely win that the hosts may have entertained soon went up in smoke as Jadhav joined Kohli and the duo proceeded to take the visitors towards victory.
By the time Jadhav mistimed a late cut to hand an easy edge to wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella off Hasaranga’s bowling, India needed just two ruuns to win with 23 balls remaining.
Earlier, pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar produced a disciplined bowling effort to pick up a five-wicket haul as India restricted Sri Lanka to 238 runs.
Bhuvneshwar registered his career-best figures of 5/42 surpassing his previous best of 4/8 which also came against Sri Lanka on January 15, 2013. He has now picked up 75 wickets from 71 matches in his ODI career.
Fellow medium-pacer Jasprit Bumrah also performed well with figures of 2/45. Spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav picked up a wicket each.
For Sri Lanka, sensible knocks from middle-order batsmen Lahiru Thirimanne (67) and Angelo Mathews (55) helped them recover to some extent after a disastrous start which saw them lose their top three batsmen within the first ten overs.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Sri Lanka were in trouble early as Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah ran through their top order, removing Niroshan Dickwella (2), Dilshan Munaweera (4) and Upul Tharanga with the scorecard reading 63/3 in the 10th over.
But Thirimanne and Mathews put up a 122-run partnership to help the hosts recover to some extent.
Tharanga (48) also contributed some vital runs at the top of the order. He started his 34-ball innings well but was sent back by Bumrah to the pavillion just when he started looking dangerous. His leading edge went straight into the gloves of India wicket-keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and the Sri Lanka skipper fell short of his half-century.
Later, Thirimanne and Mathews steadied the hosts’ innings by rotating the strike and punishing the loose deliveries which helped them maintain a healthy run rate. The duo continued to heap pressure on the opposition completing their century-run stand in the 34th over.
Thirimane’s 102-ball knock was laced with three boundaries and one six, while Mathews’ innings from 98 deliveries included four fours.
The partnership was brought to an end by Bhuvneshwar beating Thirimanne who, while looking to make room to drive the ball, misjudged the delivery.
Mathews too walked back to the pavillion after trying to scoop a delivery from chinaman Kuldeep Yadav which landed into the gloves of Dhoni.
Lower down batsmen Wanidu Hasaranga (9), Akila Dananjaya (4), Malinda Pushpakumara (8), Milinda Siriwardana (18) and Lasith Malinga (2) returned to the pavillion without doing much damage to the opposition.
Dhoni completed his 100th stumping in ODIs after he dislodged Dananjaya’s bails off Chahal’s bowling to become the first wicket-keeper in the 50-over format to achieve this feat.
The former India captain took 301 matches to reach the milestone ahead of former Sri Lankan star Kumar Sangakkara who held the previous highest record with 99 stumpings.