The Indians made life difficult for themselves before huffing and puffing their way to their first victory in the Commonwealth Bank tri-series on Wednesday. However, their four-wicket victory over Sri Lanka, while chasing a modest target of 234, may not be enough to mask the problem of poor shot-selection that has haunted them right through the tour.
After their bowlers had done a great job in restricting the opposition, India were cruising at 157 for 3, needing another 77 runs with both Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina looking good. However, suddenly, the batsmen lost their way slipping to 181 for 6 before Ravichandran Ashwin (30 not out) and Ravindra Jadeja (24 not out) put up a fighting 53-run stand for the seventh wicket to steer the side home. Ashwin, who also took 3 for 32, was named the Man-of-the-Match.
Sachin Tendulkar played some pleasing shots in scoring 48 (63 balls, 5x4) before he dragged a ball from Angelo Matthews onto his stumps. Virat Kohli (77; 94b, 8x4,1x6) batted with a lot of confidence and looked in complete command of the situation.
However, towards the latter stages of his innings, he was hobbling on one leg due to cramps. He still had enough strength to smash pacer Dhammika Prasad for a straight six, but he went for a tight single off the last ball to retain strike and that proved to be his undoing as Lasith Malinga threw down the stumps from mid-on.
But for the crucial stand between Jadeja and Ashwin, it could well have been a different story.
Earlier, the Indian bowlers redeemed themselves on a WACA pitch that offered them decent bounce. Zaheer Khan made the batsmen dance to his tunes bowling a tight line and moving the ball both ways. The left-arm pacer made early inroads into Sri Lanka's batting before R Ashwin sliced through the middle-order. Together, both Zaheer (2-44) and Ashwin (3-32) cleaned up the top half of the Sri Lankan batting with their collective figures reading 20-2-76-5.
After Tillakaratne Dilshan (48; 79b, 6x4)) was stopped in his stride by Ravindra Jadeja, it was left to Dinesh Chandimal (64; 81b, 4x4) to anchor the innings.