GUWAHATI: Virat Kohli on Tuesday said playing “without any fear” remains key to success after his 45th One-day International century led India to a 67-run win over Sri Lanka in the opening match.
Kohli hammered 113 off 87 balls to drive India to 373-7 after they were invited to bat first at the start of the three-match series in Guwahati.
Skipper Rohit Sharma (83) and fellow opener Shubman Gill (70) put on 143 runs to lay the foundations of the mammoth total.
The bowlers, led by Mohammed Siraj, then restricted Sri Lanka to 306-8 to give India a 1-0 lead in the series.
Skipper Dasun Shanaka top-scored with an unbeaten 108 after opening batsman Pathum Nissanka hit 72 but the knocks could only reduce the margin of loss for the tourists.
Kohli, who survived two dropped catches on 52 and 81, stood out with his 73rd ton across all formats as he let out a roar and took off his helmet to bask in the stadium’s applause.
“My preparation and intent always remain the same,” man-of-the-match Kohli said. “I thought I was hitting the ball nicely. It was close to the template I play with.”
The former captain has hit two successive ODI hundreds since coming out of an extended lean patch last year when he spoke about his mental struggles during the phase. “The one thing I learnt was desperation doesn’t get you anywhere,” Kohli said on lessons learnt during his slump in form. “You go out there and play without any fear. You go out there playing for the right reasons and almost play every game like it’s your last and just be happy about it.
He added: “I can’t hold on to things, the game is going to move on. I am not going to play forever. I am in a happy space and enjoying my game.”
He finally fell to third-time-lucky quick Kasun Rajitha, who was also bowling when wicketkeeper Kusal Mendis and Shanaka dropped the star batsman.
Gill hit three successive boundaries off debutant left-arm quick Dilshan Madushanka in the fourth over and Rohit smashed two sixes and a four off Rajitha to begin the charge on a batting-friendly pitch.
Rohit, who returned to captain the side after missing India’s 2-1 T20I series win, reached his fifty with a four and Gill raised his half-century a short time later.
Gill took on Dunith Wellalage with three successive fours in one over before he fell lbw in the next to Shanaka’s medium-pace bowling.
Rohit attempted to keep up the attack with regular boundaries but Madushanka cut short his knock with a length ball that bowled the Indian skipper off an inside edge.
The rest of the innings belonged to Kohli, who is now four ODI tons away from batting icon Sachin Tendulkar’s all-time record of 49.
In reply, Sri Lanka were never in the chase after losing two early wickets including Mendis bowled for a duck off Siraj.
Nissanka attempted to give some life to the chase with his fighting knock and a 72-run fourth-wicket stand with Dhananjaya de Silva, who made 47.
Sri Lanka slipped to 206-8 in the 38th over but Shanaka stretched the match till the final ball with an unbeaten 100-run stand with Rajitha.
Shanaka reached his second ODI century with a four on the penultimate ball and ended the match with a six.
The skipper said he is doing the “basics well”.
Umran Malik took three wickets with his express pace.
The second match is on Thursday at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.
R. Sharma b Madushanka 83
S. Gill lbw Shanaka 70
V. Kohli c Mendis b Rajitha 113
S. Iyer c Fernando b de Silva 28
K. L. Rahul b Rajitha 39
H. Pandya c Hasaranga b Rajitha 14
A. Patel c Fernando b Karunaratne 9
M. Shami not out 4
M. Siraj not out 7
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-5) 6
TOTAL (for seven wickets, 50 overs) 373
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-143 (Gill), 2-173 (Sharma), 3-213 (Iyer), 4-303 (Rahul), 5-330 (Pandya), 6-362 (Patel), 7-364 (Kohli)
DID NOT BAT: Y. Chahal, U. Malik
BOWLING: Rajitha 10-0-88 (2w), Madushanka 6-0-43-1, Hasaranga 10-0-67-0, Karunaratne 8-0-54-1, Wellalage 8-0-65-0 (1w), Shanaka 3-0-22-1 (1w), de Silva 5-0-33-1 (1w)
P. Nissanka c Patel b Malik 72
A. Fernando c Pandya b Siraj 5
K. Mendis b Siraj 0
C. Asalanka c Rahul b Malik 23
D. de Silva c Rahul b Shami 47
D. Shanaka not out 108
W. Hasaranga c Iyer b Chahal 16
D. Wellalage c Gill b Malik 0
C. Karunaratne c Sharma b Pandya 14
K. Rajitha not out 9
EXTRAS (LB-3, W-9) 12
TOTAL (for eight wickets, 50 overs) 306
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-19 (Fernando), 2-23 (Mendis), 3-64 (Asalanka), 4-136 (de Silva), 5-161 (Nissanka), 6-178 (Hasaranga), 7-179 (Wellalage), 8-206 (Karunaratne)
DID NOT BAT: L. Marakkalage
BOWLING: Shami 9-0-67-1 (2w), Siraj 7-1-30-2, Pandya 6-0-33-1 (2w), Malik 8-0-57-3 (4w), Chahal 10-0-58-1, Patel 10-0-58-0
RESULT: India won by 67 runs.
Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2023
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