Dambulla: Opener Shikhar Dhawan’s blazing century and a disciplined effort by the spinners powered India to a nine-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first one-day international in Dambulla on Sunday.
If one was expecting a closer fight in the ODIs after a lopsided Test series, then one would be disappointed. It looked good for the Lankans initially, when the scoreboard read 139 for 1 after 24.2 overs. The next 9 wickets fell for 77 runs and that’s pretty much where the game ended. For India, it’s another convincing win on the tour and a confidence boost for the new-look squad.
Chasing a modest 217 for victory, India rode on an unbeaten 197-run stand between Dhawan, who smashed 132, and skipper Virat Kohli, who made 82, to canter home in 28.5 overs. But it was the spinners, led by Axar Patel, who set up the opening win for the visitors in the five-match series after bowling out Sri Lanka for 216 in 43.2 overs.
India, who last week achieved their first clean sweep in an overseas three-Test series, lost an early wicket after Rohit Sharma was run out for four. The partnership between Dhawan, who hit his 11th ODI century, and Kohli made sure India had no more hiccups in their road to victory. Dhawan was in marauding form, hitting 20 fours and 3 sixes, but Kohli also attacked the opposition during his 70-ball stay at the crease.
New limited-overs captain Upul Tharanga rotated his bowling options at Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium but failed to stop the onslaught. It was a forgettable 200th ODI for veteran paceman Lasith Malinga, who was not only stuck on 298 wickets but was carted for 52 runs in his eight overs.
Earlier India’s Patel claimed three wickets after his side elected to bowl first. Fellow spinners Yuzvendra Chahal, Kedar Jadhav and paceman Jasprit Bumrah took two wickets each.