Kohli, Gill, Siraj star in India’s record win

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Virat Kohli and Shubman Gill smashed tons as India put up a mighty batting show with a total of 390/5 in Thiruvananthapuram. This was followed by a masterclass with the ball as well, headlined by Mohammad Siraj’s 4-32 as Sri Lanka were bowled out for a paltry 73. It resulted in Sri Lanka being walloped by 317 runs, the heaviest loss ever in ODI cricket.

In the first half of the game, the pitch at the Greenfield Stadium seemed ideally suited for strokeplay and it was gauged well by India’s top order. The tone was set by a 95-run opening stand between Rohit Sharma and Gill. The duo started off watchfully, getting only 19 in the first five overs. But the sixth, bowled by Lahiru Kumara, opened the floodgates.

Rohit started by flicking him wristily for a six over midwicket before turning the strike over to Gill, who promptly stroked four boundaries in succession to pick up 23 and set India on the path they’d take on in the rest of the innings.

The duo matched each other shot for shot to get close to a fifty before Rohit fell pulling Chamika Karunaratne straight to fine leg on 42. But Gill got good support from Kohli, who walked in seemingly in great touch. Kohli drove Karunaratne through the covers for a boundary off just his second ball. And followed it up by toying with Jeffrey Vandersay’s lengths as he drove and cut him for boundaries in successive balls. Gill got past fifty soon after and kept his momentum up with another six off Vandersay.

Sri Lanka were unable to launch much of a challenge to either batter although a few deliveries kept low infrequently and Gill survived an LBW review against Wanindu Hasaranga after gloving it. But otherwise, the pitch offered good value for shot-making which came in plenty.

Kohli unleashed a flurry of eye-catching shots including short-arm jabs over cover, the traditional drives and even a wristy whip over long on for a six which was one of his eight sixes, the maximum he’s hit in an ODI innings.

While Gill fell soon after getting to his second ODI ton, falling to a Rajitha delivery that kept low, Kohli took on the mantle of powering the innings ahead having got to a fifty. Kohli was also supported well by Shreyas Iyer, who kept the momentum up with a 32-ball 38. Kohli was left to wait on 99 after a collision at the boundary between Ashen Bandara and Jeffrey Vandersay saw them both being stretchered off. But his 46th ODI ton came with a single as soon as the game resumed, and also kickstarted a phase where he went on a boundary-hitting spree. He hit 66 off the last 25 balls he faced and also gave India the perfect finish to land a massive total.

What looked like a good batting surface in the first half was turned on its head in the second innings, when under the lights the pacers started with venom. Siraj set the tone with a wicket in just the second over, getting Avishka Fernando caught at a smarly placed wide slip. Kusal Mendis then followed edging behind to the ‘keeper while Nuwanidu Fernando was bowled chopping on a ball nipping in. In between, Mohammed Shami had Charist Asalanka slicing to point as Sri Lanka slipped to 39/4. They were already a batter short with the injury to Bandara, but had Dunith Wellalage come in as a concussion substitute for Vandersay.

India proceeded to be relentless in attack during this period with Siraj bowling an extended spell where he got the better of Wanindu Hasaranga with a delivery seaming in. Siraj also outsmarted Chamika Karunaratne with a return throw to catch him marginally short as he held his pose after defending back from outside the crease. As they slipped to 39/6, Sri Lanka’s hopes rested on Dasun Shanaka and Wellalage to save them from some embarrassment. However that was not to be, after Shanaka was cleaned up, bowled through the bat-pad by a Kuldeep Yadav turner. Wellalage became the 8th wicket when he hit Shami to point. With Vandersay being ruled out, the last wicket pair was in now and India decided to give Siraj the best chance to pick up a five-fer.

First, Shami bowled a couple of gentle balls to keep the game alive while Siraj had three overs at the last pair, with Shreyas Iyer and Kuldeep Yadav operating from the other end. He came close with a couple of short balls that were fended away awkwardly and an inside edge that was grassed by KL Rahul. The final ball of his spell turned out to be dramatic with an LBW appeal being upheld onfield by umpire J Madanagopal, only for replays to confirm that there was an inside edge.

With the manufactured drama coming to an end with his spell, India finally wrapped things up when Kuldeep had Kumara dragging a slog back onto the stumps and completing a record win as well as a clean sweep of the series

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