In the first ODI on Tuesday (January 10), India defeated Sri Lanka by a margin of 67 runs thanks to their top order and bowling attack. In order to help India post a massive total on the board, Virat Kohli scored his 45th ODI century while Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill delighted with flashy fifty-plus scores. In response, the guests never seemed to pose a threat to India in their pursuit of 374, and if it weren’t for their skipper’s unbeaten hundred right at the end, they would have lost by a wider margin.
Nissanka hit three boundaries in the opening three overs, but Sri Lanka’s innings didn’t get off to the best of starts. The returning Avishka Fernando was defeated by Mohammed Siraj, who only managed a top edge before being caught for just five. As Sri Lanka was put under pressure, Siraj’s subsequent over resulted in one returning to the strike zone and hitting Kusal Mendis’ stumps. The situation was then made worse by Charith Asalanka as he made his way back to the pavilion after successfully attempting a leg glance and appearing to get a bat through to the keeper. The hitter did not request a review to challenge the ruling, but additional replays seemed to indicate that the ball had only lightly brushed his towel on its way through to the keeper.
Nissanka was the lone warrior fighting at the other end of all of this. Before the pair started hitting seven boundaries in the span of three overs to get things moving, Dhananjaya de Silva came in and attempted to stabilize the innings. In the process, Nissanka reached his fifties, and Dhananjaya gained confidence on the other end. As Sri Lanka attempted to boost the ante close to the midway point, the all-rounder scored boundaries and quickly reached 47 off just 39. However, Mohammed Shami stopped them in their tracks when Dhananjaya pursued a delivery to pass it on to KL Rahul.
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Then Nissanka was quickly defeated after Umran Malik forced him to mistime a shot, which led to the top edge being pouched at midwicket. Wanindu Hasaranga amused with a brief cameo in which he repeatedly hit Yuzvendra Chahal for sixes, but failed to get a third when he attempted to. At this moment, Umran continued to add to his total in an effort to make progress, and the pursuit was essentially over. Amazingly, though, Sri Lanka never lost another wicket after losing their eighth in the 38th over, and they were able to bat out the remaining deliveries without causing any harm.
Shanaka and Kasun Rajitha, who batted last, engaged in a one-on-one struggle, and ultimately put up a partnership of exactly 100 runs off 73 balls. Rajitha contributed just nine of the 100 runs, making the final 10 overs a one-man show. Shanaka was poised to reach 100 in the last over as he continued to hit the boundary frequently to chip away at the goal. But before he regained the strike for the final two deliveries, which he smashed for a four and a six to end undefeated on 108, a weird single off the third ball threatened to ruin his celebration.
India posted a magnificent score earlier in the day thanks to the top order’s brilliant batting performances. India got off to a fast start in the game, scoring seven boundaries in just the first four overs thanks to Rohit and Gill. With both batters having a good time, that opening run set the tone for the rest of the game.
The management’s choice to select Rohit over Ishan Kishan was vindicated when he returned to the side following the thumb injury and batted at his aggressive best, bringing up a fifty with Gill following suit. The onus was then put on Dasun Shanaka to make a breakthrough for his team, and he succeeded by trapping Gill leg before wicket for 70 to end the opening stand of 143.
Then, Rohit missed a century as he inside-edged a delivery onto his stumps to be out for 83. On the other end, Kohli had a strong start to his innings by making 18 off of just 12 deliveries.
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While players like Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul provided the crucial boundaries at the other end, Kohli was at his best when rotating the strike consistently. Iyer and Rahul both made useful contributions to ensure that India’s rate did not dramatically decline after the openers left the field. India had 294/3 after 40 overs, which raised the possibility that they would cross 400. Rajitha, though, stopped Rahul in his tracks, dismissing him for 39, which caused India to regress a little.
Rajitha might have done more damage if Kusal Mendis had been able to hang onto the opportunity that came his way when Kohli edged behind after turning fifty but the keeper fumbled it. Once more, Shanaka at extra cover granted Kohli a reprieve, and the former captain made the most of it. In just 80 deliveries, he reached his 73rd international cricket tonne, giving India a commanding lead. India couldn’t surpass 400 with their long tail since Hardik Pandya and Axar Patel didn’t score, but 373 was more than enough on the day.