The same old story repeated itself in Dambulla when India once again made light work of Sri Lanka, this time in colored clothing. The Test series witnessed a complete domination from the visitors and the momentum of the 3-0 whitewash carried on in the first ODI as well. Once again, the Virat Kohli-led side was too good and the inevitable indeed happened.
Sri Lanka would be ruing the fact that they lost the plot while batting in the first innings. At 150/2, they should have gone on to score in excess of 300 but a few rash shots combined with India’s clever bowling, bundled them out for just 216 in the 44th over. In reply, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli absolutely blew the opponents away with a blazing partnership of 197 to hand their side a thumping win by 9 wickets in just the 29th over.
Now the action moves to Pallekele for the second ODI. The question remains, would there be a different script this time around? The chances are pretty less given the form of the two sides. The dilemma remains for the curators about the kind of pitch to prepare.
India have emerged the better side on all types of surfaces that have been presented so far. Perhaps, the best chance for Sri Lanka would be to try and restrict India to a chasable score and back themselves to get it, as it happened in the ICC Champions Trophy league match in the month of June.
The good news for Sri Lanka is that the opener Niroshan Dickwella is in form and striking the ball well. He performed decently in the Test series also and played a good hand of 64 in the first ODI. His opening partner Danushka Gunathilaka and the No.3 batsman Kusal Mendis scored in the 30s but didn’t carry on to get a big one, that’s where the resurrection needs to made soon for the results to be different.
The skipper Upul Tharanga had a forgettable outing in Dambulla as he got out for just 13 and failed to play a responsible innings. Angelo Mathews was left stranded at 36 not out as he kept losing partners at the other end and no one hung around with him. Sri Lanka need a lot more from these two experienced campaigners.
There is very little to talk about the bowling from the previous match. None of the bowlers troubled the Indian batsmen for even a moment. None of them could pick up a single wicket and the only breakthrough they got was courtesy a run-out. Lasith Malinga and Vishwa Fernando were highly ineffective and the spinners Lakshan Sandakan and Wanidu Hasaranga were absolutely hammered.
The bowlers need to step up big time and need to work out strategies to get rid of the Indian batsmen otherwise it’s again going to be downhill for the island nation.
Everything seems to be going right for the Indians as the batsmen backed up the good work of the bowlers to complete a near perfect victory. Rohit Sharma missed out due to an unfortunate run-out but his partner Shikhar Dhawan notched up his 3rd hundred on the tour. Virat Kohli also played a useful knock of 82 to see the side through.
Talking about the other department, the new ball bowlers didn’t extract much swing earlier on and were taken for a few. But the spinners stood up and did the job. Axar Patel bagged 3 wickets where 2 apiece went to Yuzvendra Chahal and the golden-arm Kedar Jadhav. Jasprit Bumrah too chipped in with a couple of wickets later in the innings.
Although the victory looked sweet for India, yet they would be hoping for the middle-order to get a chance to contribute. KL Rahul was supposed to bat at No.4 and he will be under the scanner for that spot in the future. MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav need to spend some time in the middle to get going.
Players to watch out for:
The newly appointed Sri Lankan skipper Upul Tharanga will be under the radar and will be having the responsibility to lift the spirits of the teammates. The left-hander has a good ODI record and now needs to lead from the front and set an example for others. Batting at No.4, he needs to take more ownership to guide the innings.
The right-hander was unlucky to be run-out in a bizarre fashion as his bat got stuck in the surface and the foot was in the air by the time the ball hit the stumps. He would be itching to get back amongst the runs as he is coming back after being rested for the Windies tour. Given his astonishing record in ODI cricket, it won’t be easy for the Lankans to keep him quiet for long.
Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga (c), Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Chamara Kapugedera, Lakshan Sandakan, Thisara Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lasith Malinga, Dushmantha Chameera
India: Virat Kohli(c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah