Kohli, Sehwag star as India take opening game
- Sri Lanka vs India Ist ODI – Hambantota
Virat Kohli struck his third consecutive century against Sri Lanka as yet another India-Sri Lankan encounter went the familiar way with Sri Lanka always playing catch up and ultimately slipping to a 21-run defeat.
Going into the opening match, the hosts were the in form team and slight favourites whilst the touring Indian team was playing their first game after a break of six months and were expected to be a little rusty.
However that was not the script that was played out yesterday; if anything it was the Sri Lankans who appeared a bit rusty and the Indians quickly shifted into top gear as if they had been playing without a break.
Once again the Indians appeared to have got the measure of their opponents very quickly and much like the trouncing we received at their hands in Australia we had no answer to the blazing blades of Kohli and Virender Sehwag whose 173 run stand effectively shut Sri Lanka out of the game.
Thanks to Lanka’s lonely sentinel – Kumar Sangakkara’s magnificent 132 – the margin of defeat was only 21 runs when it easily could have been twice that and more.
After winning the toss and electing to bat first India’s batsmen pounded Sri Lanka for a 300-plus total; their bowling, for once, did not fall apart and led by Irfan Pathan, ensured the total was a winning one.
Kohli, now easily one of the best ODI batsmen in the world, cracked his third consecutive century against Sri Lanka, his fourth in five innings, and his fifth successive fifty-plus score, equalling the Indian record.
Virender Sehwag began slightly warily – perhaps a little rusty from the break since his last game – but he was soon into his stride and displayed his liking for the Lankan bowling with a 97-ball 96. Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni made sure India recovered from a slight wobble, adding 79 in nine overs towards the finish.
Kumar Sangakkara responded with his third century in four international games, also only his second ODI hundred at home, but by the time he got credible support at the other end from No. 8 Thisara Perera, the match had slipped too far out of Sri Lanka’s grasp.
Perera did give India a scare, smacking 44 off 28 deliveries, but the departure of Sangakkara in the 48th over ended a stand of 78 off 53, and also Sri Lanka’s slim hopes.
The second game in the 5-match series is scheduled for Tuesday 24th July at the same venue.