A powerful Virat Kohli led India’s absolutely dominant performance with his 45th ODI hundred as the hosts thrashed Sri Lanka by 67 runs in the first of the three-match series here on Tuesday.
Asked to bat first, India rode on former skipper Kohli’s 87-ball 113 and fluent half-centuries from his successor Rohit Sharma (83) and Shubman Gill (70) to post an impressive 373 for seven in their allotted quota of overs in a batting-friendly strip.
In reply, the Sri Lankans were never in the hunt and finished on 306 for eight in 50 overs to hand the hosts a 1-0 lead in the rubber.
After opener Pathum Nissanka fell for 72, visiting captain Dasun Shanaka launched a lone battle and made a counterattacking century, though others failed to put up any resistance.
In the end, Shanaka remained not out on 108 off 88 balls.
Young speed merchants Umran Malik (3/57) and Mohammed Siraj (2/30) put the icing on the cake in a side game.
Continuing his blazing form into the New Year, Kohli slammed his 73rd international hundred overall and made the Lankans pay for two dropped catches.
A jubilant Siraj again bowled the new ball and reduced the Islanders to 23/2 in six overs to set the tone.
He first dismissed Avishka Fernando and then rattled the timber of Kusal Mendis with a scorching delivery to cap off a superb opening spell of 5-1-15-2, off 25 dot balls.
But Nissanka held firm and stood firm with two crucial partnerships with Dhananjaya de Silva (47) and Charith Asalanka (23) as India operated with spin twins Yuzvendra Chahal (1/58) and Axar Patel (0/32) from five overs) in the middle overs.
Amid heavy fog, Malik came to bowl in the middle overs and struck three times, dismissing Asalanka, Nissanka and Dunith Wellalage to reduce Lanka to 179/7 in 33.2 overs.
However, from there, Sahanka held the fort en route to his second ODI century which came on the penultimate ball of their innings, after Rohit withdrew an appeal to be run out at the non-striker’s end after being backed up when the batter goes too far.
Kohli, who scored 113 against Bangladesh in Chattogram in India’s last ODI, continued from where he left off.
Kohli’s class was on full display as he smashed 12 fours and one six and held on at one end as wickets fell at regular intervals in the middle overs.
This is Kohli’s third hundred from three ODIs in Guwahati — two here at Barsapara and one at the Nehru Stadium.
He was dropped twice — on 52 and 81 — en route to his 45th ODI century, four shy of maestro Sachin Tendulkar’s all-time record of 49 hundreds in the 50-over format.
Rohit responded to the criticism of benching the in-form duo of Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav by giving India a solid start in Gill’s company.
The Indian skipper preferred Gill over Ishan who had to sit out despite a record-breaking 210 in the last one-dayer.
Rohit hit a 67-ball 83 (9×4, 3×6) in a knock of sheer dominance. On a flat deck, Rohit was comfortable while getting out the Lankan pacers, and also pulled them off without a care.
Gill is also excellent and complements his skipper while keeping his wit and elegance intact.
Continuing his dream run in ODIs, Gill brought up his fifth half-century from 51 balls.
It was one-way traffic for the Indian opening duo before Shanaka dismissed Gill. The boy was guilty of playing across the line and was trapped in front of the wicket.
Looking to end his century drought, Rohit also perished in addition to 30 runs in total. He was cleaned up by debutant Dilshan Madushanka.
The run-rate slowed down and it was a welcome respite for the Sri Lankans who were staring at a 400-plus target.
The home team slowly regained the momentum with Kohli and Shreyas Iyer (28) in charge in the middle-overs.
Having given the nod to Suryakumar first, Iyer looked fluent and hit Wanindu Hasaranga for six. But he failed to convert his start.
The underfire KL Rahul (39) was also unable to step up and was bowled on the legs after being deceived by a slower one from Kasun Rajitha.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul(w), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Mohammed Shami, Umran Malik, Mohammed Siraj and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (c), Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis(w), Avishka Fernando, Dhananjaya de Silva, Charith Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Dunith Wellalage, Kasun Rajitha and Dilshan Madushanka.