Shikhar Dhawan was in no-nonsense mood. He walloped to his 11th ODI hundred, guiding India to 9-wicket win in the first of the five-match series at Dambulla International Stadium. Chasing 217, Dhawan added 197-run partnership with captain Virat Kohli and ended the proceedings in 28.5 overs. He was rightly adjudged Man of the Match for his staggering innings. However, it was India s collective bowling performance that set the platform. Despite Sri Lanka dominating at 139 for 1, the Indian spinners held their nerves and derailed the next 9 wickets in a matter of 77 runs. While Akshar Patel made his comeback with a three-wicket haul, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Kedar Jadhav took 2 wickets apiece.

Kohli has made a habit of calling it right at the toss. Luck favoured him for the fourth consecutive time, as he maintained a clean sheet on the Sri Lankan soil this season. The only time the Indian captain was kept at bay was when openers Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka added 74 runs. Although Chahal removed the latter, Dickwella pushed India in further trouble with a 65-run partnership with Kusal Mendis. However, Dickwella (64) and Kusal (36) were the last respites of the day for the hosts. Barring Angelo Mathew (36*), none of their batters could dictate terms to the rampaging Indians. Amidst this, Lasith Malinga shimmied down and hit a solitary six over long-on to entertain the crowd. Sri Lanka were bundled out within 43.2 overs.

There was a comedy of errors when India began the chase. Kohli was left into splits when Rohit Sharma and Dhawan fumbled in the middle.

However, Rohit was soon run out for 4, eventually trending for wrong reasons on social media. Unfortunately, his bat stuck in the ground, leaving him short of the crease. That, however, was the only Indian wicket that fell. Dhawan and Kohli took centre stage and reduced the Sri Lankans to rubble.

Dhawan reached three figures in a mere 71 balls. More importantly, his remarkable innings helped India register the biggest win in terms of deliveries remaining. “Things have been going well for me and I’ve just been focussing on my processes. I have mental freedom and when you perform well, you have extra confidence. By the grace of god, things are going my way. Just wanted to play positively and on the merit of the ball today.”

Sri Lanka captain Upul Tharanga blamed the middle-order collapse. “We started really well and after that we didn’t capitalise. The middle order collapsed. One stage, we were thinking of 300. If you want to score 300 in an ODI, someone has to get a big score. We have to learn from the mistakes. The main thing is someone has to get a big one. The bowling also has to become more consistent.”

Brief scores:

Sri Lanka 216 all-out in 43.2 overs (Niroshan Dickwella 64, Angelo Mathews 36*; Akshar Patel 3 for 34, Jasprit Bumrah 2 for 22) lost to India 220 for 1 in 28.5 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 132*, Virat Kohli 82*) by 9 wickets.

Player of the Match: Shikhar Dhawan

Full scorecard