India registered a comprehensive win over Sri Lanka in the first One-Day International (ODI) of the five-match series to take a 1-0 lead at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack on Sunday. It was an all-round team effort by the home side which included centuries by openers Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane, followed by an all-round effort by Suresh Raina. However, it was Ishant Sharma’s four-wicket haul which was the final nail in the coffin of the visitors.
Defending a target of 364, Indian pacers were on top of their game right from the first ball. Even as it was Ishant Sharma who bagged wickets by the bagful, the pressure was put on by Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron who applied the pressure with a good spell of fast bowling. They ran hard and bowled fast, making the Sri Lankan openers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upal Tharanga hop at their crease.
It was Sri Lanka who won the early honours in the game through some tight bowling and the pitch was lending support too, with plenty of nip and moisture on the surface which restricted the Indian openers to drop anchor and see out the danger. Debutant Lahiru Gamage, in particular was on target and the visitors were unfortunate to go wicket-less during this phase.
Rahane and Dhawan slowly grew into the game and it was Rahane who broke the shackles first up with a flurry of boundaries. Dhawan came into his own element soon and was severe on the spinners, playing a wide range of shots to get the scoreboard racing along in the middle overs. Once the batsmen got to their fifties, the duo launched a spectacular assault on the weakened attack, sans Ragnana Herath, Nuwan Kulasekera and their lynchpin, Lasith Malinga.
The short boundaries of the Barabati Stadium was treated to a rain of boundaries and it seemed like they could do no wrong. Sri Lanka found an unlikely source in the part-time off-spin of Ashan Priyanjan to get their first breakthrough. Dhawan failed to connect to a cut short, soon after his hundred and Rahane followed suit after his ton as well, playing a lazy chip to Mahela Jayawardene at short cover.
Coming into bat in the 35th over, the stage was right up Suresh Raina’s alley. Playing his 200th One-Day International (ODI), the southpaw played one of his typical knocks, which are now part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) folklore. Raina scored a breezy half-century before being trapped leg before by Suraj Randiv. Skipper Virat Kohli failed to make much of an impact too; although he did crack a couple of gorgeous shorts against his favourite opponents.
Ambati Rayudu played a smart cameo towards the end of the innings to give Gamage his much deserved wicket, while looking to clear the fence and India flew to a commanding 363 through Akshar Patel’s big hits in the final over. The conditions are still batting friendly and India will find it hard to field on this wicket too.