x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dhoni backs Kohli to be fit for Australia after heroics over Sri Lanka

The right-hander appeared to be suffering cramp late in his innings, and had to be assisted from the ground after his run-out dismissal.

Indian batsman Virat Kohli collapses after being run out for 77 runs.
Indian batsman Virat Kohli collapses after being run out for 77 runs.

PERTH // MS Dhoni is confident Virat Kohli, yesterday's match-winner, will be fit for their game with Australia on Sunday.

Kohli, the only India centurion during the tourists' dismal 4-0 Test series loss to Australia, again upstaged his more celebrated teammates with an impressive knock of 77 as India chased down Sri Lanka's target of 234 with 20 balls to spare. The 23 year old looked set for a century until he ran himself out and seemed to suffer a hamstring injury in doing so.

The right-hander appeared to be suffering cramp late in his innings and had to be assisted from the ground after a despairing dive as he tried to beat a throw from Lasith Malinga at mid-on.

"He just got cramp, so I don't think it is very serious," Dhoni said, adding that he could not recall previously seeing a batsman have to be helped from the field after a dismissal.

"Maybe somebody got hit and fell on the wickets, but I have never seen it. You have to be ready for these circumstances [Virat's cramping], you have to hydrate yourself well, you do not get a runner nowadays. People commit mistakes, it happens."

Kohli was beaten to the man-of-the-match award by Ravichanndran Ashwin who filleted the Sri Lanka middle order with three wickets and then guided the team over the finishing line with 30 not out.

"It was gripping a little bit, I got a few wickets and at the end, finished it off with the bat," Ashwin said.

It was India's first win of the season, and came after they had been beaten by Australia on Sunday.

"One victory on the board is very important," Ashwin said. "I was desperate to get a win today."

Dhoni, who said it was "good to be on the winning side", was pleased with the performance of his all-rounders, Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

"Ashwin had to bowl out of his comfort zone in the power plays and the slog overs," Dhoni said explaining why Ashwin went for 41 runs from his 10 overs. "He did well and batted well. We have confidence in Jadeja to bat at No 7 and bowl well."

The loss continued a dismal record for Sri Lanka at the WACA, with just two one-day international wins in 16 matches. They face Australia at the same venue tomorrow.

"Losing wickets after small partnerships held us back," Mahela Jayawardenem, the Sri Lanka captain, said. "We were probably 30 or 40 runs short of our target."

In what was the first time India and Sri Lanka had met in a one-day international since last year's World Cup final, which India won by six wickets, the Sri Lanka total never looked quite enough on a perfect Perth batting wicket and in front of a small crowd of 6,685 dominated by Indian fans.

They were desperate to see Tendulkar, the "Little Master", reach his long-awaited milestone and he appeared to be cruising towards his half-century.

But, on 48, he dragged an Angelo Mathews delivery on to his stumps to make it 27 Test and one-day innings since his last century, last March at the World Cup.

* Compiled by The National staff with agencies