DAMBULLA, Sri Lanka, Aug 20, (AFP): 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 on Sunday.
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.
The left-handed Dhawan hit the winning runs off a boundary and later received the man of the match award for his 90-ball blitz in Dambulla.
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.
“We really enjoyed batting together, me and Shikhar… The good thing is that he is cashing in on his good form,” Kohli said of his swashbuckling opener.
“He is in a good state of mind and we make sure we do everything to keep him in that zone because he is a match winner. When he plays like that he will win you games of cricket and that’s why we back him so much,” added Kohli.
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 put into bat, opener Niroshan Dickwella’s 74-ball 64 took Sri Lanka to 139-1 in the 25th over before their batting imploded.
Patel claimed three wickets with his left-arm spin to return career-best figures of 3-34. Fellow spinners Yuzvendra Chahal, Kedar Jadhav and paceman Jasprit Bumrah took two wickets each.
“At 139-1 (in Sri lanka’s innings) we surely had a bit to think about but again the way the bowler came back into the game and got us those breakthroughs along with our fielding really made the difference,” said Kohli.
Off-spinner Kedar Jadhav then struck twice to get two important wickets of Dickwella and Tharanga, who made 13.
Patel bowled Kusal Mendis for 36 and Chamara Kapugedara’s run out by a direct throw from Kohli made the hosts slip further.
Former captain Angelo Mathews tried to stick around with the lower-order but eventually ran out of partners to be stranded on 36. Bumrah combined with the spinners to wipe off the tail.
“We started really well and after that we didn’t capitalise. The middle order collapsed. One stage, we were thinking of 300,” said a disappointed Tharanga.
“If you want to score 300 in an ODI, someone has to get a big score and that is what we are lacking in the last one or two years.
We have to learn from the mistakes,” he added.
Sri Lanka must win at least two games in the series to gain direct entry into the 2019 World Cup.
The second ODI is scheduled for Thursday in Pallekele.
Australia have an opportunity to improve their record in Asia when they meet Bangladesh in a two-test series starting next Sunday, captain Steve Smith has said but refused to state outright if his side were favourites to win.
Australia have won just two of their 22 tests in Asia in the last 10 years while Bangladesh drew a two-test series 1-1 against England last year and pose a serious challenge at home with throes of spinners in their side on turning pitches.
“I think it is going to be a great series,” Smith told reporters after Australia’s arrival in the Asian country. “Bangladesh are very good here. I am not picking a favourite.
“We have to be confident in our skill set and hopefully we can get our processes right and have a really good series.”
Earlier this year Smith’s side lost a four-test series in India 2-1 and the skipper said the two matches against Bangladesh would be an ideal platform to show what they had learned from the defeat.
“We’d certainly like to have done a lot better on the subcontinent that’s for sure,” Smith said. “Now it is an opportunity for us to change (our record).
“I thought we did some things really well in India. We just needed to do it for little bit longer, and consistently.
“This is another opportunity to showcase our skills, show what we learned over there and hopefully give our best foot forward.”
Australia surprisingly dropped Steve O’Keefe, 32, from their squad for Bangladesh even after the left-arm spinner impressed during the series in India.
O’Keefe, with 19 wickets, was Australia’s joint highest wicket-taker with Nathan Lyon in India but had to make way for left-arm spinner Ashton Agar. Australia also have uncapped 23-year-old leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson in their squad.
“It is unlucky,” Smith said. “He did very well in the first test match in India and had some contributions throughout in the other three test matches as well.”
Smith said the inclusion of Agar, 23, was aimed at developing him for the 2021 tour of India.
“We just see it as a bit of a time to get us someone new into the group,” Smith said.
“Ashton has been around the group for a quite a while now, he’s worked on his art and he’s becoming a lot more consistent in what he’s doing. It’d be fantastic to see him get an opportunity.
“It’s four years until we next go to India which is always a tough tour for us and one that I particularly as captain want to win (at some stage) throughout my tenure.
“It’s an opportunity for Ashton to get some experience in these conditions and hopefully improve, with an eye to the next time we go to India as well.”
Sri Lanka vs India Scoreboard
DAMBULLA, Sri Lanka, Aug 20, (AFP): Final scoreboard of the first One-Day International between Sri Lanka and India in Dambulla on Sunday:
- Dickwella lbw b Jadhav……….. 64
- Gunathilaka c Rahul b Chahal.. 35
- Mendis b Patel………………….. 36
- Tharanga c Dhawan b Jadhav.. 13
- Mathews not out……………….. 36
- Kapugedara run out (Kohli)…….. 1
- Hasaranga c Jadhav b Patel….. 2
- Perera b Bumrah…………………. 0
- Sandakan lbw b Patel……………. 5
- Malinga st Dhoni b Chahal……… 8
- Fernando b Bumrah……………… 0
Extras (lb6, w10)…………………… 16
Total (all out, 43.2 overs)……….. 216
Fall of wickets: 1-74 (Gunathilaka), 2-139 (Dickwella), 3-150 (Mendis), 4-166 (Tharanga), 5-169 (Kapugedara), 6-176 (Hasaranga), 7-178 (Perera), 8-187 (Sandakan), 9-209 (Malinga), 10-216 (Fernando)
Bowling: Kumar 6-0-33-0, Pandya 6-0-35-0, Bumrah 6.2-0-22-2, Chahal 10-0-60-2, Jadhav 5-0-26-2, Patel 10-0-34-3
INDIA (target 217)
- Sharma run out (Kapugedara)…. 4
- Dhawan not out……………….. 132
- Kohli not out…………………….. 82
Extras (w2)…………………………… 2
Total (1 wicket, 28.5 overs)…….. 220
Fall of wickets: 1-23 (Sharma)
Did not bat: L. Rahul, K. Jadhav, M.S. Dhoni, H. Pandya, A. Patel, Y. Chahal, J. Bumrah, B. Kumar
Bowling: Malinga 8-0-52-0, Fernado 6-0-43-0, Mathews 2-0-9-0, Perera 2-0-18-0, Sandakan 6-0-63-0, Hasaranga 4.5-0-35-0
Result: India won by nine wickets
Series: India lead the five-match series 1-0
Umpires: Ruchira Palliyaguruge (SRI), Joel Wilson (WIS)
TV umpire: Paul Reiffel (AUS)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)