Virat Kohli’s 45th hundred in the 50-over format propelled India to a convincing 67-run victory in the first of the three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium here on Tuesday.
Apart from Kohli, who scored his third ODI century in the city and second successive one at the venue, captain Rohit Sharma and his opening partner Shubman Gill got fifties on a batters’ paradise as India, inserted, posted a strong 373 for seven.
Express bowler Umran Malik’s career-best three-wicket haul enabled India to restrict Sri Lanka for 306 for eight despite skipper Dasun Shanaka’s defiant unbeaten hundred (108 n.o., 88b, 12×4, 3×6) and Pathum Nissanka’s half-century.
While laying a solid foundation with a century partnership, the Indian openers entertained the spectators.
Seasoned pro Rohit (83, 67b, 9×4, 3×6) ruled the onside with his exquisite pulls, whereas young gun Gill (70, 60b, 11×4) lorded over the off-side with his immaculate cuts and punches. Later, the two showed their authority on the other half of the field.
After Rohit and Gill survived lbw appeals against spinners, Shanaka provided the breakthrough with his medium pace in the 20th over.
Gill, playing across, was lbw.
Rohit departed inside-edging one on to his stumps to give debutant left-arm seamer Dilshan Madushanka his maiden wicket.
Taking charge, Kohli (113, 87b, 12×4, 1×6) used his sharp eyes and smart cricketing brain to mostly work the ball around in the first half of his innings.
Following a 40-run stand with Shreyas Iyer, Kohli – who showcased his commendable drives on the on-side, including a sweet six, and straight down the ground besides some lovely cuts – collaborated with KL Rahul (39, 29b, 4×4, 1×6) to handle the middle-overs well.
They combined big shots with change of strike to add 90 runs.
Kohli, dropped twice off Kasun Rajitha, capitalized on the guests’ largesse and scored his second consecutive ODI hundred. It was his 73rd international century.
Rajitha redeemed some pride as Kohli skied a slower delivery to be caught behind in the 49th over.
Sri Lanka, which denied India a 400-plus aggregate, struggled in its reply as the home pacers tasted success to minimize the effect of dew.
Mohammed Siraj claimed Avishka Fernando and Kusal Mendis in back-to-back overs and Umran accounted for Charith Asalanka inside 15 overs.
Nissanka (72, 80b, 11×4) consolidated the Lankan innings by forging a 72-run stand with Dhananjaya De Silva (47, 40b, 9×4).
Mohammed Shami celebrated his return by dismissing Dhananjaya with bounce and movement.
Bowling fast, Umran removed Nissanka in the 31st over to draw life out of Sri Lanka’s chase and secured Dunith Wellalage’s wicket to mark a fruitful outing.
Shanaka achieved a praiseworthy century in the penultimate ball and stood for an unbroken 100-run stand with Rajitha.
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