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IPL desk in Mirpur 14 March 2012 - 11:03am IST

Gambhir, Kohli set up 50-run win for India

KKR, RCB stars score twin tons in India’s first game of Asia Cup

Twin tons from Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir and Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Virat Kohli helped India begin their Asia Cup campaign on a high beating Sri Lanka by 50 runs in Mirpur, Dhaka. After piling up a mammoth score of 304, the Indians bowled the Lankans out for 254, marking their return from the gruelling Australia tour.

Earlier, India smashed their way to 304 thanks to feisty innings played by both, Gambhir and Kohli. After Sachin Tendulkar (6) was caught off a full toss from paceman Suranga Lakmal by Mahela Jayawardene in the sixth over of the innings, Gambhir and Kohli milked the Lankan bowling on a flat track at the Shere Bangla National Stadium.

The pair took India past the 100-run mark in 22.4 overs; they took just 97 deliveries more to take India to 200 runs. Both batsmen then brought up their respective centuries in the 42nd over. Kohli pushed a length delivery from Nuwan Kulasekara to the off-side for a single to reach his ton while Gambhir pulled a short delivery from the same bowler to bring up the three-figure mark. While Kohli’s century was the second such innings by the batsman against the Lankans, Gambhir’s century came after a gap of 15 months. The Indian opener would consider himself lucky to have reached the landmark today; the opener benefitted from a dropped catch when he was only on 36 and then survived a missed run-out opportunity on 94.

Ironically, right after Gambhir and Kohli brought up their respective tons in the same over, both batsmen fell to Farveez Maharoof’s bowling in the 43rd over of the innings. Gambhir (100) was the first to go, caught at long on by Upul Tharanga, while Kohli (108) was caught at sweeper cover by Lahiru Thirimanne off the fifth delivery of Maharoof’s over.

However, the double strike gave little relief to Sri Lanka. Chennai Super Kings’ star pairing of MS Dhoni (46* off 26) and Suresh Raina (30* off 17) smashed 78 runs off the last 7.1 overs to guide India to a score of 300-plus. Dhoni was the more destructive of the two as he hit Kulasekara for 17 runs in the 48th over.

Although Lanka lost RCB’s Tillakaratne Dilshan (7) early in the chase, a brisk half-century from Delhi Daredevils’ Mahela Jayawardene kept India on the edge in the first half of the Lankan innings. However, with Jayawardene (78 off 59) eventually falling to Irfan Pathan in the 19th over and R Ashwin removing Kumar Sangakkara (65 off 87) in the 36th over, the Lankans simply didn’t have the necessary experience to guide them past the finish line.

Pathan, who will also turn out for the Delhi daredevils in IPL 2012, finished with four for 32, CSK’s Ashwin took three for 39 while RCB’s R Vinay Kumar contributed with figures of three for 55 as India brought an end to the Lankan innings in 45.1 overs.

India now play hosts Bangladesh in the fourth match of the competition at the same venue on Friday, March 16.

Brief scores: India 304/3 in 50.0 overs (Virat Kohli 108, Gautam Gambhir 100, MS Dhoni 46*, Farveez Maharaoof 2/57) beat Sri Lanka 254/10 in 45.1 overs (Mahela Jayawardene 78, Kumar Sangakkara 65, Irfan Pathan 4/32, R Ashwin 3/39) by 50 runs

Man-of-the-match: Virat Kohli for his impressive century (108 off 120 balls, 7x4) that set India up for a match-winning score

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