Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan smashed comfortable centuries in a huge 231-run opening stand as India spanked Sri Lanka by 169 runs in the first One-dayer to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series, here on Sunday.
Put into bat, Rahane struck 111 from 108 balls en route to his second ODI century while Dhawan returned to form with a 107-ball 113 as India posted an imposing 363 for five.
It was Dhawan’s first hundred since his 119 against West Indies in Kanpur in November last year and sixth overall as the two Indian openers capitalising on their respective dropped chances by veteran wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara.
In their huge partnership, Rahane and Dhawan plundered 32 boundaries, including five sixes, between them.
Suresh Raina, appearing in his 200th ODI, also did his bit by striking a quick-fire 52 off 34 balls as it was one-way traffic for India.
India continued to dominate the proceedings as bowlers took the baton from the batsmen. They called the shots, bundling out the ‘under-prepared’ visitors for a mere 194 in 39.1 overs.
The pacers, led gangly Ishant Sharma, and spinners bowled with authority, never allowing the Sri Lankans to build partnerships or score freely.
Delhi lad Ishant made an impressive comeback to the One-day side after a gap of one year as he accounted for four batsmen and conceded just 34 runs in his 8 overs.
He had both Kumar Sangakkara (13) and Ashan Priyanjan (12) caught behind and later added two lower-order batsmen to his kitty.
Seasoned campaigner Mahela Jaywardene put up some resistance with a fiery 43 off 36 balls for the Lankans but other batsmen failed to put up fight.
Skipper Angelo Mathews (23) tried to dig in but half of his side was back in pavilion by the half-way mark in their chase at a score of 126 and he too could not survive for long.
India received an injury scare as paceman Varun Aaron left the field grimacing in pain after bowling the first ball of the 13th over. Skipper Virat Kohli completed the over.
Aaron, who clocked 152kph in the first over, chatted with Kohli as physio was called before the pacer was taken off.
The two teams will now travel to Ahmedabad for the second match on Thursday.
The Lankan batters, which had the experience of Sangakkara, Jayawardene and Tillkaratne Dilshan, unlike the weak bowling link, hardly showed any appetite as nobody stood firm to anchor the big chase.
Aaron and Umnesh Yadav (2/24) generated raw pace from the flat surface while the fielders looked spirited backing the bowlers.
Dilshan (18) was the first to go with Yadav giving the breaktrhough in the ninth over, while Ishant claimed the big scalp of Sangakkara (13).
Jayawardene looked untroubled before he lost his patience driving straight to Kohli at short cover to give rookie left-arm spinner Axar Patel his second wicket.
Patel was very impressive, bowling with a flat trajectory outside the off-stump line and he nearly got a third in Mathews but Raina misjudged the line in the slip.
Patel had also impressed with his big-hitting skills as he spanked Dhammika Prasad for two sixes in the last over in his unbeaten 14 off four balls.
Much had been written about Sri Lanka’s under preparedness for the series organised after the West Indies pull out from a full length series and it came to fore with their sloppy fielding and a depleted attack that lacked sting in the absence of Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath.
Sangakkara dropped Dhawan on 10 and Rahane on 38 in what would have been routine diving catches behind the stumps.
The two Indian openers moved at snail’s pace with 14 runs from first five overs and the first power-play yielded just 43 with 44 dot balls but the Lankan attack started becoming wayward, while Sangakkara’s two reprieves injected the spark the duo needed.
Rahane started stepping out and even pulled at ease with
the Lankans bowling short while left-handed Dhawan too complemented his partner to give the Indian run-rate the much needed push.
Rahane completed his 50 from 61 balls, while Dhawan who was a tad slower struck two fours and one six to Suraj Randiv in a 21-run 21st over to reach his half-century in 64 balls.
India’s third 50 came in just 31 deliveries as the run-rate jumped to six as the openers started toying with the Lankan attack.
Rahane completed his century with a gentle push to long-on in the 32nd over while Dhawan too got the monkey off the back, scoring his first century in 19 matches with a six over mid-wicket to Seekkuge Prasanna.
It was a relieved looking Dhawan, who celebrated with his trademark style of stretching both arms wide in the air to a cheering 45,000 capacity crowd.
Just when the duo looked unstoppable Ashan Priyanjan gave the first breakthrough when the ball went down Dhawan’s knee and had enough pace to dislodge the leg stump bail.
Randiv might be expensive conceding 78 runs from his 10 over quota but he too was their most successful bowler with three wickets to his tally including that of Rahane and stand-in skipper Virat Kohli, who made 22.
Earlier, the Lankans observed one-minute silence for the landslide tragedy in the Meeriyabedda tea plantation about 200kms east of Colombo on November 29.