When Virat Kohli became only the 22nd player to captain India in one day internationals on Tuesday, he wouldn't have thought the occasion, which he might have dreamed of since his childhood, would turn out to be a nightmare. He not only saw his bowlers being hammered all over the park by the Sri Lankan openers - Upul Tharanga and Mahela Jayawardene - but also failed as a batsman against a team he relishes playing.
Kohli had tough shoes to fill. Replacing MS Dhoni both as a player and captain was a momentous task in itself. And when your bowlers bowl like pedestrians and fielders field like school kids, only a miracle can save you from going down. Kohli tried as many as seven bowlers to break the opening stand of Tharanga and Jayawardene that added 213 runs off 232 balls. But all five of his frontline bowlers went for over six runs an over. The Sri Lankan openers, en route to their respective hundreds, treated each one of them with utter disdain.
Shami Ahmed, playing in place of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, seemed to have forgotten his bowling run up many times as he could not find the right length till the end, going for 68 in his 10 overs. Umesh Yadav, who mostly relies on his raw pace than line and length, was the most expensive of the five bowlers, going for 64 in his eight overs. Ishant Sharma, once again, displayed how inconsistent he can be. His nine overs went for 68 runs. An otherwise impeccable spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja together gave away 122 runs in their 19 overs.
While the bowlers erred, Kohli would have hoped for a better effort from the fielders. But it wasn't the case. They were lethargic and lacked motivation as if the euphoria of winning the ICC Champions Trophy recently was still on their minds. Murali Vijay dropped a sitter of Jayawardene when the former Sri Lanka skipper was just on 25. Tharanga was given a lifeline when he was on 91.
Indian batting was their strength in the recent past, but that too came a cropper chasing a mammoth total. None of the Indian batsmen looked focused for the task in their hands and went down like ninepins. Kohli himself could contribute with just two runs. He didn't mince words after the match, saying they failed both with bat and ball. "It was a tough day at the office. We were not up to the mark with the ball. The Sri Lankans batted really well. When we batted, we did not apply ourselves," Kohli said after India's crushing 161-run defeat to Sri Lanka.
Although it's not the end of the road for Kohli and India in the series as they still have two more matches left. But to have any chance to progress to the final, they need to come out from a little nap they seem to be taking at the moment and start performing like the champions everyone saw in them in England.