India put in another dominant performance to cruise to a six-wicket victory against Sri Lanka in Colombo on Sunday night. Led by yet another Virat Kohli century in a run chase, the Indian batsmen barely shed sweat knocking off the 239-run target in 46.3 overs to complete a 5-0 clean sweep of the ODI series.
The crushing victory in the ODI series follows a similar clean sweep in the Test series and with just one T20 international left to play, Sri Lanka are in real danger of losing every single match to the visitors. In the ODIs India have dominated Sri Lanka from start to finish, and aside from Akila Dananjaya’s wonderful spell in the second ODI they have rarely looked threatened, often cruising to victories with minimal effort.
While Kohli and his team will be pleased with how they have played and the crushing manner of their series victory they will know they cannot get carried away with their recent success. Despite easing to victory, there are still a few things the Indian think tank will want to work out, such as their best middle-order combination. After all, they will face a much sterner test of their skills in the upcoming home ODI series against Australia.
Australia may have lost the first Test to Bangladesh on their ongoing tour, and are coming off another poor Champions Trophy campaign, but they are the reigning world champions and remain a formidable opponent in ODIs. Not to mention almost every India versus Australia contest tends to be highly competitive, and often, heated. Certainly Steve Smith’s men will not surrender meekly and just roll over in the manner Sri Lanka have over the course of the last five matches.
India can only deal with the opponents in front of them, and they have swept aside Sri Lanka in a manner they should have. The series result and the nature of India’s victories probably tells us more about the state of Sri Lankan cricket and their real struggle to find any depth, then it does about the strength of Indian cricket right now.
There is little doubt about the huge gulf in class between the two sides with India currently ranked third in ODI cricket just behind leaders South Africa and Australia, while Sri Lanka are eighth. While Kohli’s India appear to be going from strength to strength and have the luxury of playing around with their side and the roles asked of players, Sri Lanka are struggling to find depth amongst a host of injuries to key players as well as regain competitiveness in the wake of losing their golden generation.
Statistically India had the two most dominant batsmen of the series with Kohli and Rohit Sharma both amassing more than 300 runs in five matches. Sri Lanka’s leading run-scorer was Angelo Mathews — over 100 runs behind with 192 runs in the series. Man of the series Jasprit Bumrah led the way for the bowlers with 15 wickets while Dananjaya, who is in second place, is the only Sri Lankan representative in the top five bowlers with nine wickets.
Despite India’s dominance of the statistical categories, it could have been so much worse for Sri Lanka had India not fiddled around with their batting order and rested players throughout the series. The hosts also managed to save some face by batting first in four of the five matches, which certainly put a limit on how many runs some of the Indian batsmen could have scored. The one match where India batted first, they smashed the Sri Lankan bowlers all over the park to score 375.
The Indians won’t be getting carried away with their impressive series win, they will know all too well the state of Sri Lankan cricket right now. However, there is no reason why they won’t be pleased with the performance of the squad and of certain individuals throughout the series. Bumrah’s reputation and stock as a limited-overs bowler continues to grow, as do Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s. Bhuvneshwar was finally rewarded for his toil with a five-wicket haul in the fifth ODI. In Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, India have found a capable spin trio, one that could put the pressure on mainstays Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and give the selectors some food for thought.
Kohli and Rohit continue to lead the way in the blue jerseys of the one-day team, while there were glimpses of impressive form from the likes of Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav as well. The form of MS Dhoni will also please everyone involved with the former skipper notching 162 unbeaten runs in four innings.
The challenge for this Indian side now is to build on this victory and continue to play well and dominate against tougher opponents. After big series wins, it is easy for complacency to set in, but one feels Kohli’s team are well aware of the challenges ahead and acknowledge they will face tougher tests and stronger competition in the coming weeks.