HAMBANTOTA: Virat Kohli hit an impressive century to set up India's 21-run victory over Sri Lanka in the opening one-day international in Hambantota on Saturday.
Man-of-the-match Kohli cracked 106 for his 12th one-day hundred, and the fourth in the last five matches, as India scored 314-6 before restricting Sri Lanka to 293-9 in the day-night game for a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara defied the Indian attack, top-scoring with 133 for his 14th one-day hundred. He hit 12 fours in his 151-ball knock before being bowled by seamer Umesh Yadav in the 48th over.
Sangakkara added 78 runs for the seventh wicket with Thisara Perera (44), but their efforts came too late to stop India from winning the match.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, and seamers Irfan Pathan and Umesh Yadav each took two wickets for India.
Kohli, 23, earlier helped India set a stiff target with a 173-run stand for the second wicket with opener Virender Sehwag, who hit a 97-ball 96 with the help of 10 fours.
“Sehwag and Kohli batted very well,” said India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
“This was one game where I felt the toss would be crucial. In the second innings, there was variable bounce and it was a little difficult to bat on.”India lost opener Gautam Gambhir (three) in the third over after electing to bat but Sehwag and Kohli propped up the innings with their big stand.
Kohli hit nine fours in his 113-ball knock before falling in the 40th over, caught by substitute fielder Sachithra Senanayake in the covers off seamer Perera.
Sehwag, who returned to the one-day squad after missing the Asia Cup in Bangladesh in March due to an injury, looked set to complete his 16th one-day hundred before he was run out.
Suresh Raina smashed a 45-ball 50 and Dhoni made 35 off 29 deliveries as India scored 86 in the last 10 overs.
“We've got some big-hitters at the end, but we left too much for them to do. We never had the momentum going into the last 10 overs,” said Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene.
“We'll try to refocus and come back strong.”Sehwag had not even opened his account when he was dropped by Tillakaratne Dilshan off paceman Lasith Malinga, while Kohli survived on 16 when Perera failed to hold on to a difficult return catch.
Perera finished with three wickets, including those of Raina and Dhoni off successive balls, while pacemen Nuwan Kulasekara and Angelo Mathews each bagged one wicket.
Hambantota will also host the second one-dayer on Tuesday, while the last three matches will be played in Colombo (July 28 and 31) and Pallekele (August 4).
The one-day series will be followed by a one-off Twenty20 international in Pallekele on August 7.