Monday, July 22, 2024

1st ODI: Kohli’s 45th century; Rohit, Gill fifties propel India to 373/7 against Sri Lanka

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Virat Kohli looked at his very best again while slamming his 45th ODI century and second consecutive ton in the format while captain Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill slammed fifties as they propelled India to a massive 373/7 against Sri Lanka in the first match of the three-match series at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium, here on Tuesday.

On a flat pitch with a lighting fast outfield, Rohit and Gill made 83 and 70 respectively while sharing a 143-run opening stand to set the tone for a big total, before Kohli carried forward the mantle with his 87-ball 113, hitting 12 fours and a six for his ninth ODI century against Sri Lanka, going past the legendary Sachin Tendulkar for the milestone.

Initially watchful, Kohli got his first two boundaries by stylishly driving off his wrist against Dasun Shanaka and when Wanindu Hasaranga dropped short, he was quick to go on backfoot and whipped through mid-wicket for a brace of boundaries in as many overs.

He had some serious timing in his drives, when he got the drive on a length ball outside the off-stump off Madushanka run through the fast outfield for a boundary. He was magical in whips off wrists, like the one which went over mid-wicket for six and got him his fifty.

Kohli was in imperious touch, picking slower deliveries with ease and ramping short balls over keeper’s head while maintaining the balance between front foot and back foot stroke play while earning reprieves when the Sri Lankan fielders dropped his catches on 52 and 81. Soon, he got his second hundred at the venue in 80 balls in the 47th over, punching the air in delight and got a roaring applause from the crowd.

After picking two more boundaries, Kohli fell when his slog-sweep off Rajitha brought out a top-edge and was caught by the keeper, bringing an end to a spectacular knock.

Pushed into batting first, Rohit got going for India with a silken drive through mid-off for four off Kasun Rajitha in the opening over. From there, it was a boundary hitting show from Rohit and Gill, showcasing their full array of shots in an attractive display of stroke play in the power-play.

The most delightful of them was Gill cutting twice and slicing off debutant Dilshan Madushanka for a hat-trick of fours while Rohit was assured in his pulls off Rajitha as India got 75 off power-play. Rohit also survived two DRS calls on lbws before reaching his 47th ODI fifty with a sweep through backward square leg for four off leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga.

Gill also survived an lbw review on umpire’s call before bringing up his fifth half-century in 16 ODI innings off 51 balls. He did another hat-trick of boundaries when he whipped twice and brought out the drive once against left-arm spinner Dunith Wellalage, before Rohit smacked a six over the bowler’s head.The opening partnership ended when Gill was beaten on the flick and was trapped lbw by Shanaka for a 60-ball 70. Four overs later, Rohit got a big inside edge off Madushanka and saw his off-stump being uprooted.

Shreyas Iyer upped the ante with quick boundaries against Madushanka and Hasaranga, but mistimed the sweep to backward square leg off Dhananjaya de Silva. KL Rahul was productive in his 29-ball 39 before seeing his leg-stump being smashed off Rajitha. Hardik Pandya and Axar Patel couldn’t do much with the bat in the fag end of the innings as 17 runs came off the last three overs.But efforts of Kohli, Rohit, and Gill ensured that India post a large total on board as top six batters batted with a strike-rate above 100. Brief Scores: India 373/7 in 50 overs (Virat Kohli 113, Rohit Sharma 83; Kasun Rajitha 3/88, Dasun Shanaka 1/22) against Sri Lanka.

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