India have been simply outstanding in the ongoing five-match ODI series © IANS
India have been simply outstanding in the ongoing five-match ODI series © IANS

By Tapan Mohanta

Ranchi: Nov 15, 2014

Having decimated the opposition with clinical precision in all four matches, India will be aiming to complete a clean sweep when they take on a struggling Sri Lanka in the fifth and final cricket one-dayer. With the series already in their pocket, Virat Kohli-led team would like to finish with a 5-0 which will be a confidence booster with the ICC World Cup 2015 starting in less than 100 days’ time.

If India have been thoroughly professional in their first three outings, the penultimate one at Eden Gardens, turned out to be historic with Rohit Sharma smashing his way into the record books with a highest individual ODI score of 264 as India routed the islanders by 153 runs.

Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews has admitted that nothing was going their way after a string of embarrassing failures. The worst part was that they were never able to give India any competition.

If the bowling has lacked the venom in absence of their sling-arm fast bowler Lasith Malinga, it’s better not to say something about the fielding which has failed to give them the back-up.

Rohit, incidentally was the third Indian centurion in the series, to have been let-off early in his innings. Having been dropped on 4 by Thisara Perera who let go a regulation catch, Rohit made merry during his return to international cricket after sustaining a finger injury during the ODI series in England.

The Mumbaikar unfortunately missed out on the first three ODIs as the team had already been picked by then but he had made his intentions clear with a 111-ball 145 in the warm-up match against Sri Lanka, his first competitive game since recovery.

Rohit was brought in place of Shikhar Dhawan, the leading run-getter in the series so far, in a slew of changes for the last two ODIs and he has seized the opportunity to perfection.

It was a lesson to watch Rohit pace his innings as the Mumbaikar took 100 balls for his first hundred and took 73 balls for the next 164 in an incredible innings.

The knock had such impact that it would continue to haunt the Lankans in the days to come and it would be no different at the swanky JSCA International Stadium Complex here.

It’s not just one batsman but everyone in the top order has contributed be it opener Ajinkya Rahane or new No 3 Ambati Rayudu while skipper Kohli has shown amazing maturity in backing up his teammates.

Kohli played a selfless knock of 66 and gave maximum strikes to Sharma in their 202-run match-winning partnership at Eden Gardens as the flamboyant Delhi batsman would once again play the pivotal role in India’s batting.

In the bowling, Umesh Yadav has been a revelation with the new ball and leads the tally with 10 scalps, while rookie left-arm spinner Axar Patel is posing to be a tough competitor for Ravindra Jadeja with nine victims from four matches.

It remains to be seen whether the team think tank chooses to tinker in the line-up bringing in the likes of Ranganath Vinay Kumar and Kedar Jadhav to have a look-in.

After their most insipid effort during the last match, the Lankans will have to regroup and atleast play for respect in order to end the series on a positive note.

It would start with their bowling attack that conceded 233 runs in the last 18 overs in Eden Gardens while in batting too their top order have to get back to runs. According to the curator, the pitch has a bit of bounce and will aid spinners later on but it’s the dew which may turn out to be a big factor.

With city’s iconic son and regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni recovering from an injury, it would be a dampener of sorts for the city’s fans as team India would play without him for the first time in Ranchi. India have never lost in Ranchi, which has so far hosted two matches with the last one being a washout after Australia set India 296 in January last year.