Fielding and dew in focus as India target ODI series win over Sri Lanka in Kolkata

Kohli century set up big total for hosts in first game before Shanaka hit an unbeaten ton, with both benefiting from dropped chances

Powered by automated translation

India ticked many boxes in the first ODI against Sri Lanka but it would be a stretch to say they were clinical during their 67-run victory in Guwahati on Tuesday.

India’s top order batsmen, led by Virat Kohli, showed excellent intent batting first as they posted 373-7. Kohli scored his 45th ODI century while captain Rohit Sharma and fellow opener Shubman Gill also hit quick fifties to lay the foundation for the big first innings score.

It was important for the Indian team to score in excess of 350 as heavy dew in the evening was always going to make bowling difficult. However, even before the dew kicked in, India’s bowlers took out most of the batsmen and reduced the visitors to 206-8.

With the match in the bag, Indian bowlers and fielders lost their discipline and Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka made the most of their largesse, smashing an unbeaten hundred and starring in a 100-run stand for the ninth wicket as he took his team past 300 and reduced the margin of defeat.

The Indian fielders failed to hold on to three chances provided by Shanaka and tailender Kasun Rajitha. The Sri Lankans too were guilty of poor fielding, dropping centurion Kohli twice.

That lack of discipline in the field will be in focus when the two teams clash in the second ODI of the series in Kolkata on Thursday. India will win the ODI series, to go with their T20 triumph, if they succeed on Thursday.

Batting first and putting up a huge total will once again be crucial as heavy dew is expected at the Eden Gardens. Overcoming the conditions will be important not only in the context of the three-match series, but also for the World Cup later in the year.

The 50-over World Cup will be held in India during the winter months there, and evening dew is likely to impact matches across the country. Both India and Sri Lanka will be looking to gain valuable data on par scores for such conditions.

Meanwhile, captain Sharma has been lauded for withdrawing a run-out appeal against Shanaka in the opening ODI.

Shanaka was on 98 when pacer Mohammed Shami ran him out for backing up too far at the non-striker's end in the final over in Guwahati. Shanaka went on to get his second ODI century.

"I had no idea Shami did that and then went for an appeal," Sharma said in the post-match interview. "Again, he is batting on 98. The way he batted was brilliant, we've got to give it to him. We cannot get him out like that."

Sharma’s sportsmanship was lauded by former Sri Lankan cricketers including Sanath Jayasuriya.

"The real winner was the sportsmanship of Rohit Sharma for refusing to take the run out. I doff my cap to you," Jayasuriya wrote on Twitter.

Former captain Angelo Mathews added: "Not many captains would do this but hats off to Rohit for withdrawing the appeal even though the law says so! Displaying great sportsmanship."

Updated: January 11, 2023, 11:00 AM