India's tour to Sri Lanka could not be more one-sided. After having whitewashed Sri Lanka in a three-match Test series, India raced to a 1-0 lead in the ODI series after registering a 9 wicket victory over Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka were off to a decent start when they scored 139 runs with the loss of just one wicket. Niroshan Dickwella scored 64 runs before being dismissed by Kedar Jadhav. Post that, Sri Lanka's batting line-up was dismantled by the Indian bowlers who did not allow any other batsman to reach a half-century. Ultimately, Sri Lanka could mount only 216 runs in 43.2 overs.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya took three wickets each whereas Jasprit Bumrah bagged two wickets. Yuzvendra Chahal and Kedhar Jadhav had one wicket each in their name.
The second innings started off on a disappointing note for the guests after Rohit Sharma's early dismissal. However, Shikhar Dhawan decided to play an aggressive knock and make mincemeat of the opposition bowlers. He destroyed the Sri Lankan bowlers by his ferocious hitting and scored an unbeaten 132.
He was assisted by captain Virat Kohli who scored 82 runs off 70 balls. This was the Indian skipper's 44th half-century in ODIs.
This was India's biggest victory in terms of balls to spare while chasing a target over 200. Dhawan's fifty was the fifth fastest half-century by an Indian batsman while chasing.
The southpaw was awarded the 'Man of the Match' for his brilliant century. The Indian opener mustered a total of 132 runs in 90 balls with a strike rate of 146.66. He struck 20 fours and three sixes to help chase down Sri Lanka's total in 28.3 overs.
Dhawan was thrilled with his performance and said, "Things have been going well for me. I have only kept my focus on the processes and not on the results. The mental freedom helps me keep confidence in myself. You know that you have scored runs and can express yourself freely. I was just positive and was looking to score runs. I just wanted to play on the merit of the ball and keep my focus on."
Kohli extended a good support to Dhawan by creating a stable partnership with the latter. He estimated that team India might require chasing a total score of 300 at least. However, the Indian bowlers made a fantastic comeback and were praised by their skipper for putting up a brilliant show.
"They got off to a very good start. We thought we'd be chasing something close to 300; it was a brilliant wicket for batting. The whole idea of winning the toss and bowling first was hoping that the wicket would be slightly slow in the day. The ball was coming onto the bat like a dream under lights and Shikhar and I enjoyed batting together. At 129/1 we had a few things to think about but the bowlers came back superbly", said Kohli.
Talking about the spectacular knock of Dhawan, Kohli said, "The last three months have been a great time for Shikhar. The good thing is that he is capitalizing on his purple patch. He can win you games with the way he bats and we would be looking to keep him in that zone for as long as we can. He is feeling good about his game and is hitting the ball well. When he plays like this he is a match-winner and even in Tests he can win you games with the bat."
Virat Kohli also revealed about his long term plans with the ODI team keeping the 2019 World Cup in mind. He said,"I feel we need to start planning for the 2019 World Cup around 24 months in advance, try to experiment a bit here and there. We are taking that as a challenge and are looking to tryout different things, things we wouldn't do usually. You can see a lot of surprises over the next few games."
Sri Lankan captain Upul Tharanga was definitely disappointed after the guests failed to defend the momentum in which they had started. "We started well but we did not capitalise after that. Someone should have carried on to get a big one after that. If you want to score 300, conversion of starts is important. This is what we have been lacking for the last 2-3 years. Everyone hasn't been getting runs for us. At one stage it looked like we would get to 300 but unfortunately, we couldn't do it. We were restricted to 216 and in the end, India played brilliantly", he said.
Talking about their approach towards the next game Tharanga said, "We need to learn from our mistakes here, someone needs to get a big one for us in the future. Even in the bowling, we need to step up.
India will next take on Sri Lanka in the second ODI scheduled to take place at Pallakelle on 24th August.