The Indian National Men’s Team has been on a roll. After Sri Lanka was severely hammered in the test series, one expected some sort of resistance in the ODI series. Sri Lanka had already caused a major upset in the Champions Trophy in England beating India by a 7-wicket margin. Fast forward to August and Sri Lanka’s woes continued,this time in colored clothing.
First ODI- Sri Lankan Scurry and the Continuing Gabbar Romance
The first ODI at Dambulla saw Virat Kohli opting to bowl first. A good 74 run partnership between Gunathilaka and Dickwella looked promising but not for long. From there on, Sri Lanka put up a performance that would later go onto become the tale of the entire series. After sitting pretty at 139 for 1, the whole side bundled out for 216.Axar Patel registered 3 wickets from his 10 overs while Kedar Jhadav, Bumrah and Chahal picked up 2 each. In return, India saw it through with 9 wickets in hand and 127 balls to spare. After Rohit was run out early on, Shikhar ‘Gabbar’ Dhawan and Captain Kohli put on an unbeaten 197 run stand, with Dhawan scoring 132 off 90 and his skipper making 82 off 70.
Second ODI- India Survives a “Killer” Dhananjay and the Pallekele Miracle
Sri Lanka had a normal day at office- throwing away the good starts. A Bumrah 4-wicket haul saw Sri Lanka restricted to 236 with Siriwardana top scoring with 58. The Indian openers made merry with a century stand and were on course for a smooth victory until a newlywed hero saw a different kind of action for his honeymoon as he skittled the Indian ranks with exceptional dexterity. The 18th over saw the backs of Jadhav, Kohli and Rahul as they were castled off in alternate deliveries. Pandya and Axar too followed suit, and India was staring down at defeat.Enter Dhoni and a newly unearthed hero in Bhuvanesshwar Kumar who scored an extremely patient and vigilant maiden half century that resulted in a century stand between both of them. Bhuvi’s grit and Dhoni’s sage like presence saw India across in a night that otherwise belonged to the young Akila Dananjay.
Third ODI– Bumrah Masterclass and the Sri Lankan Mutiny
It was Jasprit Bumrah’s coming off age as he scalped 5 wickets conceding only 27 runs. Sri Lanka once again made only 217 with a Thirimanne 80 being the only highlight. Rohit Sharma started cautiously chipping away at the target while wickets around him fell. Once again, it had to be MS Dhoni to play the rear guard and save the innings. Just as the Men in Blue were in a stone’s throw distance from the target and eventually the series, the Sri Lankans staged major aggression, just not the Sri Lankans you’d expect to. At the end of the bottle throwing and a Dhoni power nap, India completed the proceedings with Rohit scoring 124* and Dhoni making 67*.
Fourth ODI- Affliction at Colombo and Kohli Showboating
The week that saw Windies and Banglas upset kindled hope for change.India chose to bat first at Colombo and 300 deliveries later, the Sri Lankan bowling unit looked tongue tied. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli made 104 and 131 each while Manish Pandey (50 off 42) and Dhoni (49 off 42) added to the Sri Lankan misery.The interim skipper Lasith Malinga reached the 300-wicket milestone in ODI, but had nothing else to rejoice at after conceding 82 runs and then a golden duck. The Sri Lankan batsmen too stood in solidarity with their bowlers as the team collapsed for 207 handing India a 168-run victory.
Fifth ODI- Deja Vu at Colombo and the Sri Lankan Pillory
Sri Lanka was steadfast in losing wickets in clusters throughout the series. Upul Tharanga (48 off 34), Thirimanne (67 off 102) and Mathews (55 off 98) were not able to convert their starts and the Sri Lankan side yet again saw themselves with a modest score. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar bedazzled the batsmen while picking up his maiden 5 wicket haul. Virat kohli made sure the Men in Blue completed the whitewash with an exciting century, his 30th in ODI, supported by a Kedar Jhadav’s half century.
Sri Lanka lost 47 wickets, in all, to India while snaring only 21 themselves (3 of which came off a solitary over). India spared 24 wickets and 193 deliveries in the series to hunt down the Sri Lankan total on four occasions and scored 168 runs more in the solitary game Sri Lanka chased.
Runs: Virat Kohli– 330 runs at an average of 110
Wickets: Jasprit Bumrah – 15 wickets at an average of 11.27
Man of the Series- Jasprit Bumrah
Fifth Umpire Champion of the Series– MS Dhoni
India– Prototype Testing
The Indian Men’s side had its task cut out in this series. With Ravi Shastri at the helm of affairs, India needed to experiment for the grand event two years down the line. The spin troika of Axar, Chahal and Kuldeep is beginning to show reasonable promise with a tally of 14 wickets. What is more exciting is the opening bowling pair of Bhuvaneshwar and Bumrah which has proved effective with a five wicket haul each to show. While Dhawan, Rohit and Kohli scored runs by truckloads, MS Dhoni with his 162 lifeline runs has been absolutely crucial in tipping the side over the victory lines and is our Fifth Umpire Champion.India, though, do have to worry as to why Pandya was a no-show in the series while Kedar Jhadav and KL Rahul have had modest returns with the willow, keeping in mind the batsman warming the benches is Ajinkya Rahane.
Sri Lanka – A Shadow Cast on a Long Legacy
Sri Lanka has been through hell and back, with 3 captaincy changes, possible retirement of a Yorker stalwart, frustrated home crowd, resignation of the selection panel, enquiry of captaincy decisions by the board and a lot more. Coming out of the disastrous test series, Sri Lanka has slipped into an even deeper hole. If there was an Indian side that Sri Lanka had a chance of beating, it was this. Experimenting with a new spin attack, implementing the pace bowler rotation policy, changing the order with KL Rahul at 4 and lot of experimentation meant India revealed its chinks in the armor almost voluntarily. Sri Lanka was on top of India only during the 18th over of the second match that saw Akila Dananjay spin a web around the Indian Middle Order. While Mathews made a decent 192 runs at an average of 48 alongside Thirimanne who made 165 runs at an average of 55, they failed to make it big. Akila Dananjay and his excellent figures of 9 wickets at an average of 23.22 are made a mockery of by the rest of the scoreboard.
Sri Lanka had a series to forget, or perhaps not. Never would we have in our wildest imagination predicted a time in world cricket when the land of Muralitharan, Sangakkara and Jayawardene faces uncertainty regarding direct qualification into the world cup. And yet here we are, crazy times are here to stay. Personally though, I would watch out for this island nation. There is a certain Kusal, Asela and now Akila who have shown us what lies in the horizon. It is about time the side got closer to that frontier.
Cricaddict and Foddie