Sri Lanka’s woes on the cricket field showed no signs of an end anytime soon after they suffered a crushing 168 runs loss to the Indians in the fourth ODI of the five-match series at Colombo on Thursday.
The Men in Blue’s skipper Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bat first on a batting paradise at the R. Premadasa stadium in Sri Lanka’s capital.
The hosts’ third captain in as many matches, Lasith Malinga, could not make stop the barrage of runs in his 300th ODI as the visitors posted a daunting total of 375.
Malinga’s men folded for 207 in their reply as India raced to a 4-0 lead in the series. On another hard day at the office for the islanders, we look at the good and the bad from Thursday’s action.
Due to the ridiculous high standards he sets, Kohli would have been itching to make a big contribution on a placid track after not crossing single-digits in the last two ODIs.
The India skipper looked in supreme touch from the get go as he made the Sri Lankan bowlers pay on a flat pitch with a lightning-quick outfield. Coming in at the fall of Shikhar Dhawan, the batting genius was back to his usual best as he pierced the gaps at will to bring up his 29th ODI century.
The Delhi-born batsman hit 17 boundaries and two massive sixes in his 131 off just 96 deliveries as he put on a 219 runs partnership with vice-captain Rohit Sharma.
The batting supremo eventually became the 300th victim of Lasith Malinga when he connected beautifully with a lofted off-drive straight into the hands of Dilshan Munaweera at sweeper-cover.
The former Sri Lankan skipper has not had the best of times of late individually and his failure to step up while the squad lies in transition is one of the reasons for the islander’s woes in recent times.
On Thursday though, the all-rounder showed great control with the white-ball at a time when India were threatening to post a total well beyond 400.
Mathew’s double strike in the 35th over of India’s innings at the expense of Hardik Pandya and Rohit Sharma was pivotal in drying up the runs for the visitors.
He first had the dangerous Pandya caught at deep-midwicket off a slower delivery before accounting for century-maker Rohit Sharma with the very next delivery.
The 30-year-old finished with impressive figured of 2-24 from his six overs leading to the question as to why he was not bowled out as the other Sri Lankan bowlers were picked at will by the batsman.
With a huge total of 376 to chase, the islanders were under pressure to get off to a quick-start and their matters were not helped when Niroshan Dickwella departing early. Youngster Kusal Mendis, who has shown enough promise since his tryst with international cricket, was thrust the responsibility of leading Sri Lanka’s charge.
The 22-year-old set-off for an impossible run after partner Munaweera’s punt to point only to be sent back mid-way. KL Rahul came charging in at point and made no mistake in hitting the bull’s eye as he took a shy at the stumps leaving Mendis well stranded of safety.
One would think such reckless running would make the batsmen to follow take notice but the misjudgment of singles cost the team again as all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga was run-out by a direct-hit from Jasprit Bumrah in the 34th over.
Mathews drove an Axar Patel delivery towards Jasprit Bumrah at mid-off but Hasaranga’s eagerness to get on strike led to his downfall after being sent back by his partner. Patel was on hand to direct Bumrah’s throw towards the stumps as the islanders lost their second wicket to a direct-hit.
It is fair to say Akila Dananjaya has made quite an impact for Sri Lanka in the series with the Indians struggling to read the largely unknown 23-year-old.
His six wickets in the second ODI at Pallekele had bamboozled the visitors with KL Rahul being one of his victims.
After being dismissed to Dananjaya’s wrong-one in the previous two games, the 25-year-old fell prey to the youngster’s googly for a third-time in a row on Thursday.
Rahul’s attempt to chip the off-spinner’s delivery ended up as straightforward catch to Hasaranga at mid-on. The Indian batsman’s dismissal for just seven runs ensured that his miserable run in the limited-overs series continued with just 28 runs so far.
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