Most importantly, Kohli looked just as delightful during his knock of unbeaten 82. In fact, it was only in the later stages of the India innings that Kohli matched Dhawan shot for shot even as the opener scored the fastest century for an Indian against Sri Lanka while chasing — 71 balls. He beat none other than skipper Kohli who took 76 balls in the historic chase at Hobart in 2012.
Chasing 217 was never going to be a tough job for the Indian batting line-up, but it was the consummate ease with which both Dhawan and Kohli went about the chase is what made it so special. While Dhawan was severe on the bowlers, Kohli was happy to run the singles and hit the bad balls to the boundary. While Dhawan was dropped twice (87 and 118) it didn’t really matter much as the damage had already been done.
Coming in to bat with the score reading 23/1 after Rohit Sharma (4) was unlucky to be run out as the bat fell off his hand and the throw from Chamara Kapugedera hit the stumps. But Sri Lanka’s joy was short-lived as Kohli joined Dhawan in the middle and the two put on 197 for the second wicket as India romped home with 21 overs still to be bowled. It was only poetic justice that Dhawan hit the final boundary off Wanidu Hasaranga’s bowling. The Lankan players almost looked relieved that the game had finally ended as the Indian duo was literally toying with the bowlers.
Earlier, it was Axar (3/34), Kedar (2/26) and Chahal (2/60) who ensured that the Lankan players failed to consolidate after openers Nuwan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka put on 74 for the opening wicket. In fact, the duo looked in complete control as they went on building a platform for the other batsmen. But it all fell apart as the Lankans lost their last nine wickets for just 77 runs. Dickwella (65) and Gunathilaka (35) gave the hosts a solid start, but it was Gunathilaka’s decision to suddenly reverse sweep Chahal that actually ended up opening the floodgates for the Indian bowlers to make hay.
Axar finished with career-best figures as the Sri Lankan batsmen seemed decided to commit hara-kiri. It was only Angelo Mathews who looked ready to grind as he hit an unbeaten 36 without much support from the rest of the batsmen. Kedar was once again the go-to-man for Kohli as the skipper turned to him in the 14th over. Kusal Mendis (36) and Dickwella were looking good but Kedar trapped the opener leg before in the 25th over as the DRS also went against Dickwella.
Axar then followed it up with Mendis’s wicket as he cleaned up the batsmen for 36. That was the start of the end as none of the other Lankan batsmen looked interested to even grind it out and play out the 50 overs. Jasprit Bumrah finally finished the innings in the 44th over when he dismissed Vishwa Fernando for a duck.
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First Published: August 20, 2017, 9:18 PM IST