Virat Kohli (L) and Shikhar Dhawan post India's 9-wicket victory over Sri Lanka    AFP
Virat Kohli (L) and Shikhar Dhawan post India’s 9-wicket victory over Sri Lanka AFP

India started the five-match ODI series versus Sri Lanka by posting an emphatic 9-wicket victory over hosts at Dambulla. Opting to bowl, India were on course of chasing anything over 300 with Sri Lanka well-placed at 139 for 1. Nonetheless, Akshar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kedar Jadhav initiated visitors’ fightback. As a result, India bundled out Sri Lanka for 216 in 43.2 overs. Visitors made a mockery of the paltry total courtesy an unbeaten 197-run stand between Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan (132 not out). Kohli, as a result, complimented Dhawan’s rich vein of form and shared his thoughts on Patel in the post-match conference.

“They got off to a very good start. We thought we’d be chasing something close to 300; it was a brilliant wicket for batting. The whole idea of winning the toss and bowling first was hoping that the wicket would be slightly slow in the day. The ball was coming onto the bat like a dream under lights and Shikhar (Dhawan) and me enjoyed batting together. At 129 for 1 we had a few things to think about but the bowlers came back superbly. The last three months have been a great time for Shikhar. The good thing is that he is capitalising on his purple patch. He can win you games with the way he bats and we would be looking to keep him in that zone for as long as we can. He is feeling good about his game and is hitting the ball well. When he plays like this he is a match-winner and even in Tests he can win you games with the bat”, quoted an ecstatic Kohli.

“I feel we need to start planning for the 2019 World Cup around 24 months in advance, try to experiment a bit here and there. We are taking that as a challenge and are looking to try out different things, things we wouldn’t do usually. You can see a lot of surprises over the next few games. All the guys have bought into it and I am very excited. We thought Akshar (Patel) was a gun fielder and he brings his batting into play; and felt that one wrist spinner is enough. Also, Akshar is a power-hitting batsman capable of hitting the big shots and that helps us. If we get a dry wicket we could go in with three spinners and a fast bowling all-rounder. At the start of a series we need to up our batting and Akshar brings that balance for us as a team”, concluded Kohli.