Guwahati: Ironically on a day when 5G services were launched in the city by a telecom giant, the media contingent at the Barsapara Stadium were welcomed by patchy wifi connectivity. But thankfully, it was resolved by the time the first ODI between India and Sri Lanka progressed.

On the field however, the script played to the wishes of the motley crowd, with Virat Kohli making full use of the belter of a surface by slamming a scintillating century — his 73rd overall and No 45th in ODI cricket, a format he has mastered in, and more importantly got the monkey off the back with his second successive ton at the venue.

For stats enthusiasts, well the batting machine is four shy of matching little master Sachin Tendulkar’s 49 ODI tons.

With the ODI World Cup slated somewhere between October-November in India, it was necessary for the big guns of Indian cricket to make the most of the one and half a dozen ODIs that the team plays before the showpiece event. 

Kohli utilised the conditions well, thanks to the 143-run opening partnership between skipper Rohit Sharma (83 off 67 balls) and Shubman Gill (70 off 60), providing the right cushion to get his eyes in and placement perfect against a hapless Sri Lankan attack, that was partially paralysed after left-arm quick Dilshan Madushanka picked an injury while putting a desperate dive but landed awkwardly on his right shoulder.

Back after a short break from the T20Is that preceded the ODIs against the Islanders, the 34-year-old former captain meant business as usual when he guided the second delivery down to third man for a single to get off the mark in style, and amid loud chants from the crowd that had started thronging in by the time the openers got India past the three-figure mark by the 15th over of the innings.

Kohli’s trademark cover drives, straight drives over the bowlers’ head pumped up the 30,000 fans in the park, and as the innings progressed the chants for a total in excess of 400 grew louder. Well, India eventually finished just 27 shy of the magic mark.  

Earlier, Rohit Sharma brought back memories of his aggressive 152 not out scored in the first ever ODI played in this venue in 2018, with a blazing 67-ball 83, laced with 9 fours and three sixes. Sharma must be particularly happy with his decision to prefer Gill over Ishan Kishan, despite facing criticism over ignoring the southpaw even after scoring a double ton in the previous ODI series. Mohali boy Gill justified his selection by playing the perfect second fiddle to his skipper.

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In reply, Sri Lanka’s hopes of cashing in the dew on the ground was dashed after Mohammed Siraj struck twice in quick succession to reduce the opposition to 23 for 2, before Umran Malik rode on luck to see off Charith Asalanka, even though the replays showed that the batter would have survived had he reviewed the caught behind decision.

Opener Pathum Nissanka held one end with a labourious 72 off 80 balls before Dasun Shanaka, the Lankan skipper gave an account of his batting prowess with a fighting unbeaten 88-ball 108 but his efforts went in vain as the damage was already done by then. In the end, India romped home by 67 runs.

Also Read | Prithvi slams career-best unbeaten 240 against Assam, Mumbai reach 397/2

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