As if the Test beating wasn’t daunting enough, India continued the unmatched domination in the Sri Lankan island in ODIs as well. India’s bowling, batting, fielding; the hosts had absolutely no answer to any of these at Dambulla. As it was expected, the visitors enforced a one-sided victory to take a 1-0 lead in the 5-match ODI series.
Sri Lanka’s promising start
On a humid day, Virat Kohli won his 4th toss in a row in the neighboring country and the Chase Master opted to field first. India’s new ball bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya didn’t extract any swing and the life was easy for the Sri Lankan openers who took full advantage of the fielding restrictions.
Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka started off with a steady run rate and ensured no loss in the first 10 overs. The duo was finding boundaries on regular occasions as they took the early honors in the game. India drew first blood when the leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal removed Gunathilaka at the score of 74 in the 14th over.
Then, Kusal Mendis, the No.3 batsman also looked in fine form and constructed a fifty-run partnership with Dickwella who brought up his 5th ODI fifty in the 22nd over. India’s golden-arm Kedar Jadhav then trapped him in front of the wickets in the 25th over and cut short Dickwella’s knock to 64 off 74 balls.
A collapse slipped away the advantage
Dickwella’s wicket provided India the opening in the match and it was all downhill for Sri Lanka from that point onwards. Mendis got out LBW to Axar Patel in the 28th over for 36. At 150/3, they still had the game in hand but Jadhav removed another key man in the form of the skipper Upul Tharanga for just 13.
Chamara Kapugedera was run out courtesy a brilliant diving throw by Kohli that added to Sri Lanka’s misery. Half the side was back in the hut for 169 in the 34th over. Angelo Mathews, the experienced campaigner, was still at the crease and carried the hopes for his side.
But he found very little resistance from the other end as one by one, the batsmen kept disappearing. Wanidu Hasaranga, Thisara Perera and Lakshan Sandakan departed in quick succession and left the side reeling at 187/8 with well over 10 overs still to go.
Mathews attempted to collect some runs and added 22 runs for the 9th wicket alongside Lasith Malinga. But Indian bowlers proved to be too good and didn’t let them run away with the game. Chahal dismissed Malinga and as Bumrah castled Vishwa Fernando, the Sri Lankan innings ended at 216 in 43.2 overs with Mathews left stranded at 36 not out.
Dhawan-Kohli on a rampage
With just 217 to get, India’s openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma walked out to bat. Dhawan continued his majestic form in the island nation and struck a couple of classy boundaries to get going. As Rohit was settling down, he got out in an unfortunate manner. While completing a run, his bat got stuck in the surface and a direct hit found his foot in the air and he had to make the walk back for just 4.
That turned out to be the sole bright spot for Sri Lanka in the entire duration of the Indian chase. Virat Kohli joined Dhawan in the middle and the duo went on the attack. It was a sheer treat to the eyes to watch 2 classy batsmen matching each other shot for shot. India reached 64/1 after 10 overs and the bowlers proved to be rather ineffective.
Dhawan got to his fifty in style with a six over the mid-wicket boundary in the 13th over. Then, there was absolutely no stopping him as he thrashed both pacers and spinners. Kohli went on the back foot a little and allowed his partner to flourish.
In just the 22nd over, Dhawan brought up his 11th ODI century off just 71 balls which happened to be the fastest ODI ton against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka by an Indian player. Two deliveries later, the skipper also notched up his fifty off as many balls. After 23 overs, India powered their way to 163/1.
After achieving their personal milestones, the 2 batsmen decided to enjoy themselves in the middle. They just toyed with the Sri Lankan bowlers and sent the ball to the ropes more often than not. It was as if they were batting in the nets against some club bowlers.
There was really no threat produced by any of the bowlers and India simply cruised to victory in just 25.3 overs. It turned out to be the biggest victory for India in terms of balls to spare while chasing 200 or more. Dhawan stayed unbeaten at 132 off 90 balls with 20 fours and 3 sixes while Kohli scored 82 not out off 70 balls including 10 fours and a six.
India won the toss and opted to bowl first
Sri Lanka: 216/10 in 43.2 overs
Niroshan Dickwella 64
Axar Patel 34/3
India: 220/1 in 28.5 overs
Shikhar Dhawan 132*, Virat Kohli 82*
India won by 9 wickets
Player of the match: Shikhar Dhawan