India thrashed Sri Lanka once again in the first ODI, winning by a staggering 9 wicket margin thanks to a century from Shikhar Dhawan and a handy 82 from captain Virat Kohli, helping India chase down 217 in just 28.5 overs.
Sri Lanka made a good start after being asked to bat first, reaching 139-1 before collapsing to 216 all out. The Indian spinners wreaked havoc, taking 7 of the 9 wickets that fell to bowlers. At RealSport, we speculated that Jadhav might get the nod ahead of Pandey and Rahane because of his part-time bowling, and he proved his versatility by taking 2 crucial wickets of top order batsmen
The exclusion of Chandimal came as a surprise to many as Sri Lanka played Chamara Kapugedera instead, who was run out for 1. That the team scalped exactly zero wickets with the ball is a massive area of concern, with the only wicket coming off of a runout. With every match, Sri Lanka seem to go from bad to worse. What can they do to put an end to this misery?
Upul Tharanga (captain), Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Chamara Kapugedera, Milinda Siriwardana, Malinda Pushpakumara, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Thisara Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lasith Malinga, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando
Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma , KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Ajinkya Rahane, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shardul Thakur.
Where the Teams Stand
Sri Lanka have looked completely out of their depth against India. Whether it is failing to take wickets, labouriously scoring every run, making errors in the field, nothing is going their way. Tharanga, a lifelong opener, dropping himself to the middle order for his first match as ODI captain is a clear sign of uncertainty and cluelessness. His pathetic performance in the Test series surely motivated the move, scoring 88 runs from 6 innings after making 64 in his first innings of the series.
Besides Chandimal, another surprising exclusion from the team was of Malinda Pushpakumara, who played smart cricket in the Tests against the Indians. He might just get a look in for the next ODI, considering how unsuccessful Sri Lanka’s bowling was in posing any threat to the openers and Kohli. Malinga’s bad run of form continued as he bowled an expensive 8 over spell, conceding 52 runs at an economy of 6.5. He continues to be a chink in the home sides armour and will have to justify his place in the team soon.
Sri Lanka seem to have resigned themselves to their fate, barely putting up a fight when things go downhill. They are not lacking in terms of resources as their batting order is packed with talent and proven quality. The problem that perhaps needs the most attention, besides their bowling, is their fielding, which has been disappointing. For them, all it will take is one commanding performance to light the series up and get their confidence going, and hopefully, we see that in the second ODI.
Kohli must be a happy camper after his team outplayed the Sri Lankans in every department, despite selecting only two first-team bowlers. His own score of 82 would have calmed any jitters he had after an inconsistent Test series with the bat. Dhawan’s resurgence as an opener means that Rahane will probably have to sit out a few games after the captain said he (Rahane) was the team’s third opener. Sharma did not play the Tests, and his exclusion after just one game seems highly unlikely despite the low score of 4.
India’s decision to play Axar and Chahal was an encouraging sign for the youngsters in the squad who missed out. That these two were the only ones who completed their quota of 10 overs also speaks volumes about the mindset Kohli has regarding the newer players. Pandya too was played as a front-line bowler instead of a part-timer, another result of his performances in the Test series. Thakur and Kuldeep will surely get their chance in this series, given their considerable talent and abilities with the ball.
It is a little disheartening to see the contrasting fortunes of the two teams. One’s grave keeps growing deeper and deeper, while the other can’t seem to put a foot wrong no matter what it does. India are toying with Sri Lanka, be it in batting or bowling, and for the sake of entertainment and healthy competition, one can only hope that that will change come Thursday.
India don’t look like they will lose a single game in the series, and they should clinch the second ODI with ease.
Will India win the second ODI as expected or could Sri Lanka cause an upset? Let us know in the comments and poll below.
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