Sri Lanka lost to the more experienced India despite having looked like setting a 300-plus target when well placed on 139 for 2 wickets and 4 for 166 in the first of five ODIs at Dambulla yesterday. The middle order collapse and eventually losing the last 6 wickets for 50 runs in 43.2 totaling 216 runs saw India clinch a 9-wicket win.
But that is how the game goes as the famous slogan, ‘the glorious uncertainties of cricket’. As it is, it was Sri Lanka that came on top when the two sides met in the previous encounter when Sri Lanka created a tournament upset at the ICC Champions Trophy in England chasing down a mammoth 321 for a magnificent 7-wicket triumph.
In this loss, the home side can take solace from the words of Head Coach, Nic Pothas’ pre-match reasoning that at this juncture of team rebuilding patience is the name of the game. “Lets be patient and talk two years from now’. As it was, Sri Lanka was on course to repeating the high scoring batting performance in that triumph on English soil.
Openers Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka had breathed a waft of that last triumph over India putting on 74 for the first wicket in 13.6 overs. Then Kusal Mendis, who was the match winner in that contest, did sparkle for a run a minute 36 putting on 65 for the second wicket with Dickwella. But the latter’s exit for a top score of 64 off 74 balls containing eight boundaries saw Sri Lanka collapse after Dickwella’s departure when the total was 139. After skipper Upul Tharanga had exited for 13 having labored in a repair job that took Sri Lanka to 166 for 4, Angelo Mathews braved in a lone battle to remain unbeaten on 36 inclusive of five hits to the ropes.
India’s run chase saw prize opener Rohit Sharma run out with the total on 22, but Skipper Virat Kohli joined the inform Sikhar Dhawan in an unfinished 197-run alliance for the second wicket. Dhawan went on to notch up his eleventh ODI century of 132 off 92 balls inclusive of 20 boundaries and 4 sixes, while Kohli struck 82 off 70 balls with 10 boundaries and a six.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-