Virat Kohli (128 not out) anchored the batting yet again, and a bench-warmer of the series, Manoj Tiwary, who finally got a look in, ripped through the Sri Lankan batting, to win the fourth one-day, and with it, the series for India.
India’s emphatic victory was achieved in 42.2 overs. The scoreline read 255 for 4 in 42.2 overs. India now have an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the series. The last match will be played at Pallekele.
Kohli, who notched up his second century this series, and the only chance to get him came on 102. In any case, it was too late by then. Kohli now aggregates over 800 runs in the last 10 ODIs – an unmatched feat – came to the crease in the first over after Gautam Gambhir (0) failed to bring his bat down in time to an inswinging Malinga yorker. From then on, he rebuilt the innings, initially with Virender Sehwag (34), with a partnership of 52 for the second wicket, and later, steered India with an unbroken 146 for the fifth wicket with Suresh Raina (58 not out). Like in the last game, Raina had a reprieve when he was put down by Mahela Jayawardene in the second slip. He was on 19 then. In the last game, Raina, who was put down when on 16, went on to seal the game for India in the company of Irfan Pathan.
Rohit Sharma’s (3) horrendous form with the bat continues. Despite the faith the Captain has in him, it is clear that he does not share the same sentiment. Manoj Tiwary (21) looked set for a good score, but he misjudged Jeevan Mendis to be trapped in front.
After the most promising start of the season, Sri Lanka squandered the advantage to make a huge score after it chose to bat first in the crucial fourth ODI against India at the R.Premadasa stadium. It set India a target of 252.
The star of the session was doubtlessly, Manoj Tiwary, whose leg spinners had the Sri Lankans fancy their chances. He finished with 4 wickets for 61 runs, sealing his place in the team. The part-time Indian bowlers hunted in pack, restricted scoring, and managed five wickets in all. Dinda and Ashwin shared the remaining three that fell in the Sri Lankan first innings.
Needing a win to keep the series alive, the Sri Lankan openers started cautiously, and posted the 50 in 69 balls. Just when it seemed that Sri Lanka would cut loose, T.M. Dilshan (42) miscued a pull of a short-ball off Dinda. The ball travelled straight up a few kilometres and Dhoni ran backwards and took a comfortable catch. From then on, it did not seem that Sri Lanka was interested in compiling. U. Tharanga (51), who jumped out of the crease to hoist Ashwin, missed the line of a shorter ball that went past his bat. Dhoni completed an easy stumping.
Lahiru Thirmanne (47), dropped by the ever-dependable Virat Kohli, did not make it count. Mahela Jayawardene (3) fell for an unorthodox stroke - This time the ‘dil-scoop’ did not work, and Sehwag got a wicket thanks to Dhoni’s anticipation.
Sri Lanka’s 200 came in 259 balls. But for the antics of Malinga and Herath, who put together 32 in three overs, Sri Lanka would have been in even worse shape.
Isuru Udana made way for Nuwan Pradeep. Dhoni persisted with Rohit Sharma and chose to test Manoj Tiwary as a leg-spinner, and hence Rahul Sharma had to sit out.
Sri Lanka batting: U.Tharanga st Dhoni b Ashwin 51 (73b, 1x6, 4x4), T.M.Dilshan c Dhoni b Dinda 42 (48b, 7x4), L.Thirimanne b Ashwin 47 (69b), D.Chandimal c Pathan b Tiwary 28 (32b, 2x4), M.Jayawardene c Dhoni b Sehwag 3 (3b), A.Mathews c Kohli b Tiwary 14 (34b, 1x4), J.Mendis b Tiwary 17 (16b 2x4), T.Perera c Raina b Tiwary 2 (3b), R.Herath (not out) 17 (15b, 1x6, 1x4), L.Malinga (not out) 15 (7b, 2x6) .Extras (lb 2, w 13) 15. Total (for 8 wickets in 50 overs) 251.
Fall of wickets: 1- 91 (Dilshan), 2-102 (Tharanga), 3-152 (Chandimal), 4-155 (Jayawardene), 5-190 (Mathews), 6-213 (Mendis), 7-218 (Perera), 8-219 (Thirimanne).
India bowling: Khan 6-0-36-0 (3w), Pathan 6-0-27-0 (1w), Dinda 6-0-28-1 (2w), Kohli 2-0-7-0, Sehwag 8-1-38-1 (1w), Ashwin 10-1-46-2, Tiwary 10-1-61-4 (6w), Sharma 2-0-6-0.
India batting: G.Gambhir b Malinga 0 (5b), V.Sehwag c sub (Senanayake) b Mathews 34 (29b, 6x4), V.Kohli (not out) 128 (119b, 12x4, 1x6), R.Sharma lbw Pradeep 4 (14b), M.Tiwary lbw Mendis 21 (38b, 2x4), S.Raina (not out) 58 (51b, 4x4, 1x6). Extras (lb 2, w 6, nb 2) 10.Total (for 4 wickets in 42.2 overs) 255.
Fall of Wickets: 1-0 (Gambhir), 2-52 (Sehwag), 3-60 (Sharma), 4- 109 (Tiwary).
Sri Lanka Bowling: Malinga 8-1-41-1, Perera 6-0-51-0, Mathews 6-1-18-1, Pradeep 8-0-52-1, Herath 7-0-44-0, Mendis 6-0-37-1, Dilshan 1.2-0-10-0.
Man-of-the-match: Virat Kohli.