Dhawan, Kishan, Shaw lead Sri Lanka rout after Kuldeep, Chahal shine

19 July, 2021
Dhawan, Kishan, Shaw lead Sri Lanka rout after Kuldeep, Chahal shine
India 263 for 3 (Dhawan 86*, Kishan 59, Shaw 43) beat Sri Lanka 262 for 9 (Karunaratne 43*, Shanaka 39, Kuldeep 2-48, Chahal 2-52) by seven wickets

Prithvi Shaw played gloriously through the offside, debutant Ishan Kishan lit up the stadium with a thumping fifty on his birthday, and Shikhar Dhawan saw the chase through from start to finish, as India's second string served Sri Lanka a walloping first up. Chasing the hosts' half-decent (but far from daunting) 262 for 9, India galloped home with 80 balls and seven wickets remaining. Long passages in their innings were more a celebration of their batting depth and fearlessness than a serious contest; Sri Lanka's bowlers were unable to contain them no matter which field or angle of attack they employed.

Sri Lanka's batters, in contrast, had been constricted by the spin of Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, and Krunal Pandya, who took grip of the middle overs and struck frequently to prevent any partnerships from prospering for long. Chahal and Kuldeep took two wickets apiece - their early strikes instrumental in reducing Sri Lanka to 89 for 3, before Krunal's miserly left-arm spin kept the run rate in check. Sri Lanka's batters occasionally found the boundary through this period, but were largely unable to keep the runs flowing in between the big shots - a reflection of their own limitations, as well as the quality of the bowling. Six batters got themselves past 20, but only Chamika Karunaratne breached 40, with his late explosion. As a team, they played out 159 dot balls.

Although Kishan would hit a half-century and Dhawan top-scored with 86 not out off 95, it was Shaw's innings that was the most manic of the evening, setting the tone for India's thundering victory. He punched Dushmantha Chameera through the offside twice in the first over with sublime timing to get India moving rapidly, then hit majestic boundaries off Isuru Udana at the other end. He hit three successive fours in the arc between point and cover in the fourth over, each one seemingly more glorious than the last.

When Shaw got out for 43 off 24, Kishan ensured India's scoring rate - which was over 10 at the time - would not slow down. Facing his first ball in ODI cricket, he ran down the track at Dhananjaya de Silva and launched him over his head for six, then creamed the next ball through cover point for four. In de Silva's next over, he pummelled three successive boundaries. Later in his innings, after the powerplay had ended, Charith Asalanka's offspin would be punished as well. It was with a one-bounce four off Asalanka that Kishan reached his fifty, off the 33rd ball he faced. He would eventually be out for 59 off 42, edging Lakshan Sandakan behind.

Dhawan's innings was stately in comparison. When India reached 50 in the fifth over, he was on seven. When they went past 100 in the 13th over, he was on 16. In fact, Dhawan hit only one boundary off his first 57 balls, choosing instead to turn the strike over, and look for safe runs into the outfield. It was only in the company of Manish Pandey, who made a sedate start relatively speaking, that Dhawan took it upon himself to begin looking for boundaries. When he hit the winning run in the 37th over, he had six fours and a six to his name.

Earlier, Sri Lanka had made a decent start, getting to 49 for no loss after nine overs, before Avishka Fernando spooned Chahal's very first ball to short cover, and Sri Lanka's problems began. Batters made confident starts, but rotated the strike poorly, and were out looking for boundaries on what they knew was a good pitch to bat, and on which they would need a score of close to 300 to seriously challenge India.

After Chahal provided the initial brekathrough, Yadav claimed the next two wickets - debutant Bhanuka Rajapaksa edging him high into the infield as he attempted to slog against the turn, before Minod Bhanuka, who had compiled a patient 27, edged to slip. Krunal's only wicket was an important one - that of de Silva, who holed out to long-off.

Partly because of their frequent loss of wickets, Sri Lanka were poorly placed for the slog overs. They lost two wickets in quick succession as they approached the 40th over, and would soon lose Dasun Shanaka as well, after he made 39 off 50 in his first innings as captain. His dismissal would leave them 205 for 7 in the 44th over.

No. 8 Karunaratne, though, worked himself gradually into the innings alongside Isuru Udana, with whom he shared a boundary-less 17-run stand, before exploding in the company of No. 10 Dushmantha Chameera, in the last two overs. Chameera struck a four and six off successive Hardik Pandya deliveries in the penultimate over, before Karunaratne hit two sixes - including a helicopter shot over deep midwicket - and a four off Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 50th. Sri Lanka reaped 32 runs off the last 12 balls. Once India got going, that final fillip seemed a lot less impressive.
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