India vs Sri Lanka, 4th ODI, Kolkata: India were 2-1 up in the five-match ODI series against a strong Sri Lankan unit. The visitors, electing to bat first, scored a massive 315 for 6 courtesy a hundred by opener, Upul Tharanga and a fifty from skipper, Kumar Sangakkara. India were in big trouble in the chase losing the wickets of their two great openers - Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar within the first 4 overs.
Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli led India’s fightback. Kohli announced himself hammering the best bowler from the opposition - Lasith Malinga - for 4 consecutive boundaries in the 9th over. The pair put together a fine hundred run stand for the third-wicket in just 92 deliveries with Kohli registering his half-century off just 52 deliveries soon after.
The partnership grew strength from strength and soon raised India’s 200 in the 32nd over. Kohli registered his first international hundred - off 110 deliveries (including 11 fours) a measured and calculated knock which showcased his temperament and maturity in a tough chase. He was finally dismissed for 107 off 114 deliveries in the 40th over after putting together 224 for the third-wicket with Gambhir - which remains the second-highest third-wicket partnership for India in ODI cricket!
Gambhir remained unbeaten on a splendid 150 and helped India chase down the target with 7 wickets in hand and 11 balls to spare. The stand between Kohli and Gambhir had ensured a series-winning performance for India at the Eden Gardens. It was the fourth-highest successful target chased by India (till then) in their ODI history!
Kohli had made a big statement. Under pressure in a chase, he had shown remarkable maturity and courage and played a pivotal role in the series win for India. It was the first sign of things to come - there was no looking back and Kohli went on to become the greatest ODI chaser of all-time.
Also, interestingly, what happened in Kolkata in 2009 repeated itself at the biggest stage of them all - on the 2nd of April, 2011 in the World Cup Final in Mumbai. Curiously, Wankhede, 2011 almost seemed like a replay of Eden Gardens, 2009 - Sri Lanka batting first and putting up a big total, India losing Sehwag and Tendulkar early in the chase and then the very same batsmen - Gambhir and Kohli - coming together and not only resurrecting the innings but also partnering in a match-changing and defining stand which set India on the course to victory.
Maybe the trust and camaraderie they built in Kolkata, 2009 gave them the confidence to do what they did in Mumbai, 2011.