India won first match of the ODI cricket series against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
The ball flew off Prithvi Shaw’s bat and Ishan Kishan was super aggressive in his ODI debut. In the first ODI of the three-game series, Shikhar Dhawan’s ‘second row’ India took a walk in the park at Ranasinghe Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
Chasing 263 for victory on a good pitch, India won by seven wickets with 80 balls to spare. Shaw’s 43 of 24 balls provided an opening boost and Kishan’s 59 of 42 balls took the game away from Sri Lanka. Dhawan anchored the chase with an unbeaten 86 of 95 balls, but before the batsmen did their job, the Indian spinners unsettled the opponents.
Upon his return to the Indian team, Shaw showed no signs of excess baggage from a dismal Australian tour last winter. This was his first international match over 50 years in about 18 months. In favorable batting conditions, the 21-year-old was not afraid that his exaggerated hand movement would impede his natural game. Sri Lankan new bowlers Dushmantha Chameera and Isuru Udana barely moved the ball and Shaw was loose early on. His batting speed contributed to the way he timed the ball.
Udana threw a full delivery and Shaw stayed behind the line to stroke her past the middle of the line for a four. A couple of majestic hedge runs followed on Udana’s next visit. An off-drive against Chameera was even better. Shaw’s touch was fascinating and India was galloping. The scoreboard was 57 not to lose after five overs and the hosts looked demoralized.
Overconfidence likely played a role in Shaw’s firing rather than the gorilla Chameera crashing into his helmet. It disrupted his fluidity, but perhaps Shaw would have been better off with a momentary gear change against Silva’s clumsy Dhananjaya. He was poked for the long haul, but this hit would give the young man a lot of confidence.
Debut to remember
Kishan never looked like he was making his Indian debut in this format. The southpaw immediately went off the mark with a six from Dhananjaya. The trade modified its length and flattened the next installment. Kishan broke it past the cover-point for a four.
Kishan’s dancing feet neutralized Sri Lankan spinners and made decent deliveries achievable. Three consecutive fours in one more Dhananjaya was cultivated aggression. The Sri Lankan countryside did not help matters. Kishan should have come out with 32, but Chameera parried a direct catch from Charith Asalanka over the length limit.
Sri Lankan cricket has suffered a severe recession, which should be of concern to the country’s cricket hierarchy. As for Kishan, he ran half a century from 33 balls.
Stains at stake
At first glance, the focus would be more on the three T20Is that follow the ODI series. Still, for fringe players, one-days are a good opportunity to get into the rhythm and push the form forward to the shorter format. India’s batting lineup for the T20 World Cup will be chosen alone and for someone like Dhawan, the runs and hit rate in T20I will be more important than what he does in the 50-and-up format. For the likes of Kishan, a good start here will keep him in the fight in case India needs a backup for Rishabh Pant or KL Rahul.
However, the whole series of limited-overs is more important for the spinners, since beyond Ravindra Jadeja there is a vacancy, ahead of the T20 World Cup. From that point of view, it is positive that Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav started on a good note. Chahal broke the Sri Lankan opening society and re-tuned it to a couple of grounds. Kuldeep also pocketed two windows and appeared to have recovered his zipper and wrong’un. Minod Bhanuka’s firing was a case in point, as the thrown delivery spun and bubbled after pitching and grabbed the outer edge. Three balls earlier, Kuldeep had represented Bhanuka Rajapaksa with a shorter one that skidded a bit as Dhawan took an excellent catch. Krunal Pandya was stingy.
But Bhuvneshwar Kumar was rusty. Injury-prone of late and no playing time, the middle pacemaker deliveries sometimes sleepwalked towards the goalkeeper. Later, upon death, he was taken to the dry cleaners by Chamika Karunaratne. The vice-captain of this team needs more under his belt to regain his form and choosing him for the Sri Lanka tour instead of the Trials in England seemed like a fair decision.
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