The susceptible technique to Indian batsmen in seamer-friendly conditions was thoroughly exposed as Sri Lanka comfortably beat India by seven wickets in the first ODI of the three-match series. The win also enabled Sri Lanka to break the ignominy of 12 straight defeats in ODIs and also their first win against India in the current year after losing all international matches at home as well as the Test series. It was an inauspicious start to Rohit Sharma's India captaincy as the home team was shot out for 112 in 38.2 overs, a target which the Islanders crossed in 20.4 overs.
Had former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni not stood tall amid ruins with a face-saving 65 off 87 balls, India at one point of time reduced to 29 for 7 and in danger of recording their lowest ever ODI score. Their previous lowest was 54 against a formidable Sri Lanka in Sharjah back in 2000. Dhoni clobbered 10 boundaries and two sixes in his crucial knock even as only two other Indian batsmen - Hardik Pandya (10) and Yadav - could reach double-digit figures. He used his 300-plus ODI experience to counter the seam movement and bounce but didn't get the kind of support that was required from the other end.
Suranga Lakmal (4/13), Nuwan Pradeep (2/37) and Angelo Mathews (1/8) stifled the hosts with a fine display of seam and swing bowling in ideal conditions as Thisara Perera won a crucial toss. With regular skipper Virat Kohli taking a break due to his impending marriage, the Indian top-order did not cover itself in glory as the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik looked all at sea against moving delivery. While most of the batsmen are not Test regulars, the performance does raise questions about Indian team's ability to counter seam and swing. It was second time on the current tour after the Eden Gardens Test that Indian team's ability was put to test and they again came to a cropper. Put into bat, Indian batsmen looked clueless as Lakmal, Pradeep and Mathews with half of the Indian batting line-up were gone for just 16 runs at one stage.
Left tottering at 29 for seven, Dhoni and Kuldeep Yadav (19) stitched 41 runs in 47 balls for the eighth wicket which went a long way in India crossing 100-run mark. With an early start to the match, Lakmal, who completed his quota of 10 overs in a single spell, emerged as the wrecker-in-chief for Sri Lanka, returning with impressive figures of 10-4-13-4. Such was the dominance of the Lankan seamers that India scored 11 for 3 in the powerplay overs, the lowest 10-over score in an ODI in the last five years, and second-lowest overall. Lakmal produced some extra bounce with his away going deliveries and Rohit ended up poking at the ball to be back to the pavilion after the third umpire overturned another not out decision.
During Sri Lanka's chase, Upul Tharanga blasted 49 off 46 balls with the help of 10 boundaries as the visitors overhauled the target with 29.2 overs to spare. With Sri Lanka taking a 1-0 lead, India's chances of grabbing the No. 1 spot in the ICC ODI rankings is pretty minimal. Hardik Pandya (1/39) was taken for runs but he managed to get Tharanga caught behind. Thereafter, Mathews added 49 runs for the fourth wicket with Niroshan Dickwella (26 not out) and took Sri Lanka home. The second ODI is scheduled for Mohali on Dec. 13.