The opening stand
After being put into bat, openers Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane got off to a sedate start by negating the swing and seam in the earlier overs. Once they got their eye in, they unleashed their array of strokes. Both added 231 runs for the first wicket breaking many records enroute. While Dhawan was the first one dismissed for 113 in the 35th over, Rahane fell soon after for 111. Dhawan scored his sixth ODI hundred and Rahane scored his second ODI ton.
Cuttack: Indian batsman Shikhar Dhawan hugs Ajinkya Rahane after completing his century during 1st ODI match against Sri Lanka in Cuttack. Pic/AFP
Before the start of the series, Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews confessed that his team were under prepared for the series that was a makeshift arrangement by the BCCI after the pull-out by the West Indies. His statement was a reflection of their performance in the field. Shikhar Dhawan was dropped on 10 and Rahane was dropped on 38. Both went on to make centuries which reflected in the huge score India posted on the board. Their bad fielding was evident from the fact that Matthews himself dropped a sitter on the last ball of the innings.
Chasing a mammoth score of 364, Sri Lanka needed to get off the blocks from the word go. Unfortunately that did not happen. While Dilshan perished early, Upul Tharanga had a wretched time in the middle. He seemed completely clueless to the pace of Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron. His miserable time was finally ended by Ravichandran Ashwin. His 28 runs came off 53 balls.
Beaten for pace
Not very often we see two genuinely fast bowlers from India rattling the opposition. In the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron had the opportunity to have a crack at the Lankan openers. Both kept the openers scoring under control and beat them for pace on multiple occasions. Varun Aaron even bowled a delivery that was clocked at 152.5 kmph on the speed gun.
Playing in his 200th ODI, Suresh Raina continued his terrific form with the bat. Coming in to bat at No 3 ahead of Kohli, Raina scored at a brisk rate and got yet another half century. His 52 came off 34 balls with four boundaries and three sixes. Bowling his part-timers, he also picked up the wicket of Angelo Mathews to end with figures of 1/24 in his five overs.
Virat Kohli was proactive as stand-in captain. India fell a bowler short when Varun Aaron limped off the field after bowling only five overs. Yet, he did not panic and went for the kill as he continued to bowl with his fast bowlers. It was only after the dismissal of the dangerous Mahela Jayawardene, he turned to a part timer (Raina) to fill in the remaining overs.
While Yadav and Aaron put the batsmen under pressure, Ishant Sharma reaped the rewards of the pressure. He bowled an incisive spell of fast bowling coupled with good lines and consistent pace. He eventually ended with figures of 4/34 in his eight overs which included the big wicket of Kumar Sangakkara.