After hitting back-to-back centuries in the last two ODIs against Sri Lanka, India skipper Virat Kohli guided his team to a seven-wicket victory in the one-off Twenty20 match at R Premadasa Stadium last week. The Indian team thus returned home with a 9-0 record, winning all in this island nation.
Kohli steadied the ship after India lost openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul cheaply while chasing 171 runs for victory. But in no time he took control of things and started playing his shots all around the park. He lifted leg-spinner Seekkuge Prasanna for the first six of the Indian innings to bring up the team's 50 in 7.1 overs and then greeted Thisara Perera with consecutive boundaries in his first over.
It was difficult to play shots on a pitch that played slow and Kohli and Manish Pandey rotated the strike well to unsettle the Lankan bowlers during the early stage of their 119-run third-wicket stand that came off 78 balls. Playing his 50th T20I, Kohli reached his half-century in 30 balls only. Pandey played the perfect supporting role allowing his skipper to play more balls. He too grew in confidence and played some delightful strokes and finished the game for his side in 19.2 overs with a boundary that also brought up his own maiden T20I half-century. The Karnataka batsman remained unbeaten on 51 off 36 balls with four fours and one six.
Kohli finally perished, playing 54 balls for his 82 that included seven fours and one six while going for a big shot off left-arm pacer Isuru Udana to be caught at the deep mid-wicket boundary by Dasun Sanaka. India then needed just 10 runs from 10 deliveries.
Earlier, it was the same old story for Sri Lanka who failed to capitalise on a good start and managed 170 for seven in 20 overs after being put into bat by Kohli on winning the toss.
Opener Niroshan Dickwella set the tone by hitting Jasprit Bumrah for three boundaries in the second over after the match started 40 minutes behind schedule due to rain. Although Lanka lost their skipper Upul Thranga early, Dilshan Munaweera, playing his 10th T20I, took the attack to the rival camp by hitting the pacer for two boundaries in that same over. The right-hander greeted Yuzvebdra Chahal with two big sixes - over extra cover and over bowler's head - in the very next over.
The 28-year-old reached his maiden T20I fifty in 26 balls with the help of five fours and four sixes. Kuldeep Yadav finally stopped the onslaught as the batsman lost his bat and his stumps while going for a pull.
But a middle-order collapse then saw the hosts slump from 99 for three to 134 for seven.