Thiruvananthapuram: Virat Kohli dished out another batting masterclass on a placid pitch with his 46th ODI century while Shubman Gill strengthened his chances of being a long-term opener with his second hundred as they propelled India to a mammoth 390/5 against Sri Lanka in the third match of the series at Greenfield International Stadium here on Sunday.
In his typical style, Kohli was off the blocks quickly and anchored the innings for the large part to be unbeaten on 166 off 110 balls. In his third century in the last four ODI innings, Kohli hit 13 fours and eight sixes, hitting the Sri Lanka bowlers all over the park.
In the last ten overs, he fetched 84 out of the 116 runs India scored to virtually bat Sri Lanka out of the match. He also shared a 131-run partnership with Gill, who was stylish in his 116 off 97 balls, hitting 14 fours and two sixes.
Electing to bat first, India had a sedate start, making only 19 runs in the first five overs. Rohit set the tone for the aggression, stylishly flicking over deep mid-wicket for six off Lahiru Kumara. Gill joined the fun in the same over by getting four consecutive boundaries through steer, drives and flick.
Rohit was timing his shots beautifully like a straight drive slammed down the ground off Rajitha and oozed elegance while pulling and lofting for sixes before ending the first power-play with a flick going past mid-on for four, as India amassed 75 runs in the first ten overs.
The 95-run opening stand was broken by Chamika Karunaratne when Rohit pulled straight to deep square leg in the 16th over. Kohli arrived and looked in the mood of playing another exquisite knock by hitting three sublime boundaries, both off the front foot and back foot.
After Gill reached his fifty in 52 balls, he began to grow in confidence – slog-sweeping a Jeffrey Vandersay delivery over deep mid-wicket for six and then leant into a front foot drive past mid-off for four more. He went on to cash on Nuwanidu Fernandocs part-time off-spin, getting a four past the outside edge and then bringing out an elegant loft over long-off for six.
On the very next ball, after Kohli got his fifty, Gill notched up his second ODI century off only 89 balls. The duo pressed the accelerator pedal by taking four boundaries off Vandersay in the 32nd over before Gill was bowled by an off-cutter which kept low off Rajitha for 116 in the next over.
From there, Kohli took charge and unleashed carnage on Sri Lanka bowlers, making them look clueless and toothless. Slower deliveries were being dispatched for boundaries and Kohli came down the pitch to get his runs in the quick clip. There was quick running between the wickets which added more fluency to his century number 46 in ODIs bringing off only 85 balls.
Kohli then produced the shot of the innings – dancing down the pitch to slam a slower ball from Rajitha over long-on for six, whose follow-through had shades of M.S Dhoni’s helicopter shot. More fireworks came from Kohli as he sliced and lofted off Karunaratne before punching him through cover for four more.
Though Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav and K.L Rahul fell, there was no stopping Kohli, who was lofting, driving, flicking, and then got his 150 with a six whacked over deep mid-wicket off Kumara in the final over. He applied the finishing touches to mammoth innings with a pull and dab going for four and six respectively as India got 116 runs in the last ten overs.
Brief scores: India 390/5 in 50 overs (Virat Kohli 166 not out, Shubman Gill 116; Kasun Rajitha 2/81, Lahiru Kumara 2/87) against Sri Lanka