Making full use of two dropped chances, Virat Kohli smashed his 45th ODI hundred that propelled India to an imposing 373 for six against Sri Lanka in the series-opener here on Tuesday.
Kohli, who scored 113 against Bangladesh in Chattogram in India’s last ODI, continued from where he left to play the sheet anchor role with his 87-ball 113.
The class of Kohli was on full display as he smashed 12 fours and one six and held on to one end while wickets fell at regular intervals in the middle overs.
At a venue where he had scored a century (140 vs West Indies) in the only ODI held here four years back, the former India skipper had luck by his side.
He was dropped twice — on 52 and 81 — en route to his 45th ODI century, four shy of maestro Sachin Tendulkar’s all-time record of 49 centuries in the 50-over format.
Overall, Kohli has now 73rd International centuries. To go with his 45 ODI hundreds, he has 27 in Test format and one in T20I. Skipper Rohit Sharma responded to the criticism of benching the in-form duo of Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav by giving India a solid start in company of Shubman Gill. The Indian skipper had preferred Gill over Ishan who had to sit out despite a record-breaking 210 in India’s last one-dayer.
Rohit slammed a 67-ball 83 (9×4, 3×6) in a knock of sheer domination.
On a flat deck, Rohit was at ease to step out to the Lankan pacers, pulling them with nonchalance en route to a 41-ball fifty.
Gill was also at his fluent best and complemented his skipper keeping his flair and elegance intact.
Continuing his dream run in ODIs, Gill brought up his fifth half-century that came off 51 balls.
It was a one-way traffic for the Indian opening duo before Dasun Shanaka dismissed Gill. The youngster was guilty of playing across the line and wad trapped in front of the wicket.
Looking to bring an end to his century drought, Rohit too perished in addition of 30 runs to the total. He was cleaned up by debutant Dilshan Madushanka.
Run-rate slowed down and it was a welcome respite for Sri Lanka who till then were staring at a 400-plus target.
The home team slowly gained the lost momentum with Kohli and Shreyas Iyer (28) taking charge of the middle-overs. Having got the nod ahead of Suryakumar Yadav, Iyer looked fluent and hit Wanindu Hasaranga for a six. But he failed to convert his start.
Underfire KL Rahul (39) also could not make it big and was bowled around the legs after being deceived by a slower one from Kasun Rajitha.