DAMBULLA – India opener Shikhar Dhawan smashed an unbeaten 132 off 90 deliveries to help his side thrash hosts Sri Lanka by nine wickets in the first of five one-day internationals on Sunday.
Sri Lanka were well-beaten in the recently concluded three-Test series against India, losing the first two matches inside four days and the last one in three to be whitewashed 3-0.
If the home fans had hoped the change in format would bring a change in fortune, they were left bitterly disappointed with India breezing to their 217-run target in under 29 overs.
Left-handed Dhawan, who scored his 11th hundred in the 50-over format, took India past their target with his 20th boundary, with captain Virat Kohli remaining unbeaten on 82 from 70 deliveries.
The duo added 197 in an unbroken second-wicket partnership after India suffered the early loss of Rohit Sharma, who was run out for four after dropping his bat behind the crease.
Having been adjudged the man of the series in the Tests, Dhawan, who also hit three sixes, continued to plunder runs off the Sri Lankan bowlers.
He brought up his hundred in 71 balls and got to the three-figure mark with three fours in an over against leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga.
Kohli was more measured in his approach and hit 10 fours and a six in his innings.
Sri Lanka had appeared set to post a challenging total after Kohli won the toss and asked the hosts to bat first.
Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka added 74 in their opening stand before the latter played a bizarre reverse sweep to leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal to get caught out at cover for 35.
Dickwella, who top-scored for the hosts with 64, continued the good work and added 65 for the second wicket with Kusal Mendis, who made a fluent 36.
Sri Lanka looked well placed to score in excess of 300, but then the hosts collapsed, losing their next nine wickets for the addition of 77 runs.
From 139/1 in the 25th over, Sri Lanka were bundled out for 216 with 40 deliveries still remaining in their innings.
Left-arm spinner Axar Patel was the pick of India’s bowlers, taking 3/34, while Chahal, part-time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav and paceman Jasprit Bumrah picked up two wickets apiece.
The second one-day international in the five-match series will be played in Pallekele on Thursday.