India began their ODI series against Sri Lanka with a big win, the margin of victory being 67 runs in the end. Their triumph was built on a strong batting performance, the highlight of which was a century from Virat Kohli.
Sri Lanka had their own centurion in the form of their captain Dasun Shanaka, but his efforts ultimately proved in vain.
There were no great surprises in terms of selection from either side. India chose to bring back some of their major stars including captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, meaning that there was no place for Suryakumar Yadav, despite his century in the third T20I against the same opponents.
Sri Lanka won the toss and decided to field first, a decision that backfired on them as Rohit and Shubman Gill put on 143 for the first wicket before Gill was the first man to go, out for 70.
Kohli and Rohit added 30 more, before Rohit was out for 83, but both Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul played valuable support innings with Kohli, who was on his way to his 45th ODI century.
He eventually fell in the 49th over for 113, but he had helped his side to reach a winning total of 373/7 from their 50 overs.
Kasun Rajitha took 3 wickets for Sri Lanka, but they cost his side 88 runs.
Sri Lanka made a poor start to their reply and were soon two wickets down in the sixth over. Opener Pathum Nissanka helped keep the innings together, by making 72, but the run rate was always against them, whilst the loss of regular wickets further checked their momentum.
It was left to their captain Dasun Shanaka to offer some late resistance, as he made an unbeaten 108, off 88 balls, including 3 sixes and 12 fours.
That was, though, a case of too little too late, and his team were well beaten in the end, concluding their innings on 306/8.
Umran Malik was the best of the Indian bowlers with 3 – 57, whilst Mohammed Siraj took 2 – 30.
Key Talking Points
Kohli equals Tendulkar’s record
That was Kohli’s 73rd century in all, and his 45th in ODI cricket. His innings of 113 came off 87 balls and featured one six and 12 fours.
It was also his 20th ODI on home soil, equalling the previous record of Sachin Tendulkar. But whereas it took Tendulkar 160 innings to reach the landmark, this was Kohli’s 99th.
They are well clear of the next men on the all-time list, Hashim Amla of South Africa and Ricky Ponting of Australia who both managed 24th home ODI centuries.
Kohli is now just four short of Tendulkar’s record of 49 ODI hundreds.
He, has, now overtaken Tendulkar to become the first Indian batter to score 9 ODI centuries against Sri Lanka, and, in the course of his innings, became the fastest player to reach 12,500 runs in ODI cricket.
Indian batters find form
What will delight the Indian selectors, as much as the form of Kohli, is that the rest of the top order also found form.
Rohit in recent months had seemed inhibited by the burdens of captaincy but showed signs of returning to his fluent best in this match. Meanwhile, Shubman Gill showed why he is currently ahead of Ishan Kishan in the pecking order – despite the latter’s record-breaking double century against Bangladesh last month.
KL Rahul will also be pleased to have got some runs under his belt after a poor run of form.
Shanaka carries the flag
Shanaka was Sri Lanka’s best player in the recent T20I series and again he carried the flag for his country, aided by Nissanka. The question is whether he should be moved up the batting order, because, coming in at number six, it can be too late for him to affect the outcome of games such as these.
Not a day for the bowlers
The pitch in Guwahati was favourable for batting, and it was not a day for the bowlers for either side, a number of whom proved to be expensive on the day. It also offered little encouragement for the spinners, so the fast bowlers ended up doing most of the work.
VISIT OUR BLG TO GET YOUR FIX FOR ALL OF THE MOST CURRENT CRICKET NEWS STORIES & FEATURES