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Shanaka’s valiant effort in vain as Kohli’s sublime century steals the show in Guwahati

image-lcq6h1xdVirat scored his 45th ODI ton [Source: Associated Press]

The ODI series against Sri Lanka couldn't have started on a brighter note as Team India thumped Sri Lanka by 67 runs to clinch the first ODI on Tuesday. Sri Lankan skipper, Dasun Shanaka scored a captain's hundred, but it was in vain as the others faltered in the chase.

Virat Kohli scored his 45th ODI century and was complimented well by Rohit Sharma's 83 as India made use of the flat deck on offer at Guwahati and used the conditions to perfection. This was a Kohli special knock and Sri Lanka would be regretting dropping him twice in the innings.

Kohli special steals the show

2023 is the 50-over World Cup year and one can say that Indian batter had a perfect match practice. Shanaka won the toss and his decision to bowl first back-fired on the visitors as Rohit and Shubman Gill got off to a flier.

Seemed like the mini break that Rohit had worked wonders for him as the Indian skipper was the chief destroyer early in the innings.

The boundary floodgates opened right from the first over and it didn't stop as the opening duo made a mockery of the Sri Lankan attack. Rohit was coming on the back of an injury and he showed no signs of rustiness, taking special liking to debutant Dilshan Madushanka.

Gill joined the party soon and complimented his skipper to perfection. Before the start of the game, there was a heated debate going on who should be India's opener - Gill or Ishan Kishan. But Gill showed his class once again the 50-over format and scored a quick-fire 70 off 60 deliveries, before getting dismissed by Shanaka.

This is when Kohli joined the crease and you could see a different Kohli altogether. He was aggressive, looked fearless, and was not afraid to go down the track to the spinners. 

On the other hand, just when Rohit was marching towards his 30th ODI ton, he chopped on a Madushanka delivery onto the stumps and was sent back for a well compiled 83.

Kohli was unfazed by the scenario and found his ally in Shreyas Iyer (28), and then KL Rahul (39) as India steered towards a monumental total. Just after reaching the fifty run mark, Kohli was dropped by keeper Kusal Mendis when the batter tried to steer the back of a length ball off Rajitha.

He continued the onslaught and it seemed like the stars were aligned when he was yet again dropped on 81 by skipper Shanaka at covers. He made Sri Lanka pay for it and notched up a scintillating ton - his second in as many matches.

Thanks to his knock, India were able to post a huge 373-7 on the board.

Sri Lanka falter, but Shanaka shines

Chasing 374 is no easy feat and despite the flat track, Sri Lanka lost the momentum inside the first 10 overs itself. Two quick wickets for Siraj in the form of Avishka Fernando (5), and Kusal Mendis (0) pushed the visitors on the back-foot. 

With the ball doing just enough in the initial overs, Siraj showed his class and at times looked unplayable. With their backs against the walls, Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka led a mini-fightback.

With the early wickets, Sri Lanka never really had the momentum as the duo of Nissanka and Asalanka batted slowly and that creaped the run-rate up, and allowed the Indian bowlers to dominate them.

Rohit handed the delivery to Umran Malik and the gun pacer instantly paid the reward by getting the crucial wicket of Asalanka for 23. Asalanka missed his attempted flick and the ball was caught by KL Rahul. Interestingly, the southpaw never really nicked it as the ball came off his towel. 

The ever-reliant Dhanajaya de Silva joined forces with Nissanka and the runs started to come by quickly. DDS took a special liking to Axar and smashed three boundaries in his second over to bring a ray of hope back for the Lankan Lions.

Runs started to flow with ease and DDS was at his aggressive best. But a change in bowling attack worked for India as Shami came into the attack and took the prized wicket of de Silva.

His fallout brought a flurry of wickets as Nissanka followed him soon after scoring a gritty 72. The middle order failed to chip in as the wickets tumbled regularly and Sri Lanka were pushed on the brink of defeat. 

However, there was still some fight left in the tank as Shanaka once again showed his love for the Indian bowlers and took a liking to them. He batted with lower middle order and gave a life to a lifeless game and scored a terrific century to remain unbeaten on 108. However, his blitz was not enough as Sri Lanka faltered and eventually lost the game by 67 runs.

Brief Score

India: 373-7 (50)

Virat Kohli: 113 (87), Rohit Sharma 83 (67);

Kasun Rajitha 3-88 (10), Dasun Shanaka 1-22 (3)

Sri Lanka: 306-8 (50)

Dasun Shanaka 108 (88), Pathum Nissanka 72 (80);

Umran Malik 3-57 (8), Mohammed Siraj 2-30 (7)

Also Read: Virat Kohli confesses his 73rd century with sloping, sweeping, cursive shots