India on brink after back-to-back setbacks

IndiaIndia's Umesh Yadav reacts after being bowled by Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga for a duck during their Tri-Nation Series cricket match in Kingston, Jamaica, Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Sri Lanka won by 161 runs. (AP)

The start was painstaking, and the momentum non-existent. India's approach towards their quest of overcoming 349 had resembled that of a marathoner opting to make measured and cautious progress even while his opponents had scampered off with a sensational head-start. And before long the world champions began tripping and falling, not able to step up the pace. The finish line became a mirage. Also read: Jayawardene, Tharanga floor India

But despite the score reading 52/2 and the required rate having ballooned to over 8.5, there was renewed hope and optimism in the air all of a sudden as Virat Kohli walked in, in his first official ODI as India captain. If anyone could achieve the impossible against Sri Lanka it had to be him. So what if the top three had looked significantly out of depth. In Pics: India vs Sri Lanka

The anxiety in the Sri Lankan camp, which had been in cruise control till then, became evident as skipper Angelo Mathews began setting his field with extra attention. It was natural after all. So often has Kohli has been the scourge of the Lankans, especially in tall run-chases. Not only was he walking in with an average of over 75 against Sri Lanka while his team was batting second, but Kohli had led India to victory in 11 out of those 17 occasions, averaging 109.42 in successful run-chases. The desperation in the Lankan camp to get rid of their usual party-pooper was understandable. Also read: No comments, thank you: Gambhir on Kohli's captaincy

They managed it without much fuss. The last time he was in the Caribbean, Kohli had been repeatedly discomfited by pacy short-pitched deliveries bowled by the West Indians. He had even been bounced out on occasion during what was his maiden Test series. Mathews' bouncer in comparison was hardly a rip-snorter. Nor did it carry a menacing look. It was perfectly directed though, and rushed Kohli into a shot. The result was a top-edge that carried safely into the hands of Lasith Malinga at long leg. Just like that, Kohli was gone for 2. The threat had been eliminated. Also read: West Indian fans: Divided they stand, together

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