Kohli's outstanding innings, which comprised of 12 fours and one six, was the fulcrum which enabled the tourists to power past Sri Lanka's total of 251 for 8. India's number three did, however, have a worthy foil in Suresh Raina, who marched to an unbeaten 58 off 51 deliveries in an exemplary 144-run-partnership with Kohli.
Although the hosts made a strong start with the bat, with opener Upul Tharanga having scored 51, part-time bowler Manoj Tiwary was the key man in the Indian attack by taking four wickets for 61 runs.
It was not all plain sailing for the visitors, though, as they lost a wicket without a run on the board. Gautam Gambhir, who made a magnificent 102 in the third one-day international, was dismissed after just five deliveries when Lasith Malinga's renowned swinging yorker unhinged his middle stump.
Virender Sehwag and Kohli soon had a calming effect on the Indian top order with a valuable 48-run alliance. Sehwag had ghosted menacingly on to 34 before his attempted flick to legside off Angelo Mathews was skilfully caught by substitute fielder Sachithra Senanayake.
Rohit Sharma again disappointed with the bat when adjudged lbw off Nuwan Pradeep for just four. Tiwary was then trapped in front by Jeevan Mendis for 21, before Raina and Kohli went about their business with ruthless efficiency. Raina's launched four over over extra cover off Tillakaratne Dilshan sealed the deal as India won at a canter with 46 balls remaining.
Tiwary's contribution with the ball should not be downplayed, though, as he accounted for Dinesh Chandima (28) in his first over before later bringing about the downfall of Mathews, Mendis and Thisara Perera.
After having won the toss and opting to bat, Sri Lanka will no doubt reflect on what could have been after having made a deeply promising start courtesy of an 86-run stand between openers Upul Tharanga and Dilshan.
Dilshan reached 42 before his time came to an end when Ashok Dinda's short delivery lured him into a pull shot which was top-edged to wicketkeeper MS Dhoni. Tharanga reached his half-century shortly afterwards before being dismissed by Ravi Ashwin one run later.
Lahiru Thirimanne also weighed in with a handy 47, while tail-enders Rangana Herath (17 not out) and Malinga (15 not out) added a zesty flurry of late runs. Sadly for the home side, it was not nearly enough and they will be playing for pride when the two meet up for the final match at Pallekele on Saturday.