Kohli, Rohit smash hundreds in crushing victory

Cricket




India 375 for 5 (Kohli 131, Rohit 104, Pandey 50*, Dhoni 49*) beat Sri Lanka 207 (Mathews 70, Kuldeep 2-31, Bumrah 2-32) by 168 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The last time Virat Kohli had elected to bat after winning an ODI toss, Rohit Sharma made an unbeaten 264 in an India total of 404.

Now, against the same opponents, it seemed as if Kohli and Rohit were on course to become the first pair of batsmen to score double-hundreds in the same ODI. By the end of the 29th over, they had put on 219 in 165 balls. Kohli was batting on 131 off 93 balls, Rohit on 86 off 75. On a hard, flat Premadasa Stadium pitch bounded by one of the quickest outfields anywhere, India were 225 for 1 and the record ODI total of 444 seemed under serious threat.

In the end, India only got as far as 375. Kohli’s 30th-over dismissal, which gave Lasith Malinga his 300th ODI wicket, sparked a slump that saw India lose four wickets for the addition of only 49 runs, in 49 balls. Without a whole lot of batting to follow, MS Dhoni and Manish Pandey had to ration their risk-taking somewhat in an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 101 off 74 balls. And so, instead of a world-record chase, Sri Lanka were left merely the task of bettering their own highest successful chase. By 52 runs.

In the end, they never even threatened to get close, eventually folding for 207 in the 43rd over of their chase and slumping to their biggest defeat – by a runs margin – in a home ODI.


Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma added 219 for the second wicket in 168 balls © Getty Images

The target was a speck that grew smaller and more distant with each over, and regular wickets meant Sri Lanka never got enough of a foothold to even think of going for it. Apart from Angelo Mathews, who made 70, and Milinda Siriwardana, who scored a punchy 39, no one got past 30 as Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav finished with two wickets apiece.

Kohli based his decision to bat – it was only the second time he had done so, having won 16 tosses – on letting his bowlers and fielders put their feet up in the heat and humidity of the Colombo afternoon. Given those conditions, and the utter lack of help from the pitch for both seam and spin, Sri Lanka looked like they were serving a sentence during the first 29.2 overs of the Indian innings.

Their only moment of joy, in that time, came in the second over, when Shikhar Dhawan sliced Vishwa Fernando straight to third man. Given the form he was in, he would have rued that shot as he settled in the dressing room and watched Kohli and Rohit dominate the bowling.

Kohli set off in a blaze of boundaries, hitting three successive fours off Fernando, off only the ninth, tenth and eleventh balls of his innings. None of the three balls were half-volleys. He drove the first ball to the cover boundary, on the up. The next two, near-identical balls closer to off stump, went past mid-off and midwicket. It took him only 23 balls to get to 30, with six fours, all either driven or flicked.

At that point, Rohit was batting on 3 off 7. A lofted drive over extra-cover, off Mathews, moved the opener into his stride, and from there on, no matter who the bowler was, both batsmen did as they pleased. There were two mix-ups early in the partnership, with Kohli at the danger end on both occasions, and a run-out seemed the likeliest way, by far, for Sri Lanka to break it.

After the first Powerplay, Rohit and Kohli turned on a steady stream of ones and twos, and manufactured a boundary every now and then to keep the run rate rattling along at well above seven an over. A bottom-handed whip from Kohli enabled him to hit Siriwardana against the turn and bisect long-on and deep midwicket. A deliberate, open-faced slice from Rohit sent the ball curling past the diving backward point fielder. Given the speed of the outfield, anything that beat a fielder on the circle left the boundary-rider no chance.

By the 25th over, Kohli had already raced to his hundred, off just 76 balls, reaching the landmark with a whippy pick-up shot off Siriwardana. His next 19 balls brought him 31 runs, and he seemed unstoppable when he fell to one of the most innocuous balls he faced all day: a wide, full ball from Malinga that he slapped straight to sweeper cover.

A total of at least 400 still seemed a formality, though, with Rohit reaching his hundred in the 34th over and Pandya, promoted to No. 4, clattering Akila Dananjaya for a couple of early lofted boundaries. But Mathews, carrying his injury-ravaged body creakily to the crease and delivering two short balls, dismissed both off successive balls, Pandya picking out the deep fielder with a pull and Rohit cramped for room while trying to ramp him over the keeper. When KL Rahul failed to keep a flick down off Dananjaya in the 38th over, Sri Lanka had done as much damage limitation as they could have hoped for. From there on, India’s dominance would resume unabated.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo


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ESPN Sports Media Ltd.






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