Team India came out with a thorough performance at Mohali    AFP
Team India came out with a thorough performance at Mohali AFP

Rohit Sharma‘s cell-phone rang after the post-match conference at Dharamsala. Virat Kohli was at the other end. He wasn’t happy at all. He had every reason to be disappointed following Indian top order’s meek surrender against Sri Lanka. In addition, he shared his wedding news, but ordered Rohit to be tight-lipped. (Disclaimer: The above mentioned lines are fictional).

What followed was an emphatic turnaround led by Rohit, the stand-in captain. Rohit became the second captain to slam an ODI double-hundred. This was also his third ODI double ton (nobody else has even two). As a result, India toppled Sri Lanka by 141 runs at Mohali. In short, Sri Lanka could manage to outscore Rohit by 43 runs.

Rohit lost the toss on the second time in a row, and India were asked to bat. Sri Lanka started with Angelo Mathews instead of Suranga Lakmal, presumably based on Mathews’ success against Rohit across formats. Mathews and Lakmal restricted the Indian openers to 33 from the first 10 overs. Then Shikhar Dhawan cut loose, and what followed was thorough entertainment for spectators. Dhawan perished for a 67-ball 68 but set the tempo for others to follow.

Shreyas Iyer, batting at No. 3, was a complete failure in his debut match. He, however, made up for it with a 213-run stand with Rohit. The Mumbaikars made merry against a listless Sri Lankan attack. Sri Lanka were quite a contrast to their show on Sunday. They erred in length and gave away too many loose balls.

Iyer missed out on a maiden ton, departing for 88. Rohit reached the three-figure mark in 115 balls with only 2 sixes. He went berserk from thereon. India added 115 runs in the last 7 overs with Rohit slamming 92 off 27. The madness began in the 44th over when he slammed Lakmal for 4 sixes. The over went for 27. Nuwan Pradeep leaked 18 in the next. He ended up conceding 106 from 10 overs (joint third-most runs conceded in an ODI and most by a Sri Lankan).

This is Rohit’s second mammoth knock versus Sri Lanka and third overall. His maiden double century had come in 2013, against Australia. Since then, Rohit has never averaged below 45. He remained unbeaten on 208 (13 fours and 12 sixes) today.

In reply, Sri Lanka never looked threatening to run away with the game. Upul Tharanga was their best best at the top, but perished for 7. He played a loose shot off Hardik Pandya. Soon, Sri Lanka were reduced to 62 for 3. Mathews found able company from Niroshan Dickwella and Asela Gunaratne. The youngsters played several sweep shots, reverse and paddle shots being most common. Nonetheless, the ever-increasing run-rate resulted in their dismissal.

Mathews continued to do what he does best. Amidst the fall of wickets, he held one end and took on the likes of Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar. He applied himself till the very end and registered his second ton. Interestingly, both have come against India (in India) in a losing cause.

Earlier, Mathews became the fourth Sri Lankan (after Sanath Jayasuriya, Tillakaratne Dilshan, and Aravinda de Silva) to reach the ODI double of 5,000 runs and 100 wickets. He also became the 10th Sri Lankan and 82nd overall to 5,000-run club.

Brief scores:

India 392 for 4 in 50 overs (Rohit Sharma 208*, Shikhar Dhawan 68, Shreyas Iyer 88; Thisara Perera 3 for 80) beat Sri Lanka 251 for 8 in 50 overs (Angelo Mathews 111*, Niroshan Dickwella 22, Asela Gunaratne 34; Yuzvendra Chahal 3 for 60, Jasprit Bumrah 2 for 43) by 141 runs.

Man of the Match: Rohit Sharma.