Ind vs SL, ODI Series, 2023: Kohli back in form, Siraj’s powerplay prowess among positives for India
India vs Sri Lanka, ODI Series, Top Takeaways: Virat Kohli's back in form, Mohammed Siraj’s powerplay prowess among positives for India. Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill find their groove.
The recently concluded three-match One Day International (ODI) series between India and Sri Lanka once again corroborated the home side’s dominance in bilateral fixtures. And with the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 set to begin in October this year in India, it was a perfect start to the year for the hosts.
India claim record series victory over Sri Lanka
The blue brigade began the series on a perfect note in the first game in Guwahati when they posted a huge score of 373/7, before earning an easy victory with the ball later. During the second game at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, India managed to keep calm even after slipping early in a comfortable chase, while the last game of the series saw them registering a world record 317-run win over Sri Lanka at Thiruvananthapuram.
India have now won 96 games against Sri Lanka, which is the most by a team against an opposition, going past Australia’s 95 wins against New Zealand. India remains the country where Sri Lanka are yet to win a bilateral series in any format against the host nation. This was India’s tenth bilateral ODI series victory against Sri Lanka.
Let’s scan a few takeaways form the three-match ODI series between India and Sri Lanka.
Virat Kohli gets back to normal job of breaking records
It was an odd last couple of years for Virat Kohli in the 50-over format of the game where even though he was getting some runs, the way of scoring those runs wasn’t as supreme as he used to do in the past. But the world saw the old version of Virat in this three-match ODI series.
Coming to bat after a wealthy 143-run opening partnership in the first game of the series, Kohli took his own time early in his innings as he ran all those singles and doubles on a regular basis to keep the pressure on the opponents before going after the bowlers later in the innings to register his 45th ODI hundred in just 80 deliveries. His 113 runs in 87 balls thanks to 12 boundaries and one six powered India to a winning score of 373.
After a failure in the second game, Kohli again showed his class during the third ODI at the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram. He walked into the middle in the same sort of atmosphere as he looked to be aggressive from the very first ball of the game, before registering his 46th ODI century in 85 balls. He finished the series with 283 runs in three games at an average of 141.50 and strike rate of 137.37 with two centuries.
It was Kohli’s 10th ODI century against Sri Lanka which was the most hundreds a player has scored against an opponent in ODIs. Kohli’s 2503 runs against Sri Lanka is the second-most by a player against the particular side, after Sachin Tendulkar’s 3113 ODI runs against SL. With 21 ODI centuries in 101 innings in India, Kohli has gone past Tendulkar’s 20 hundreds in 160 innings in India.
India’s opening pair requires consistency in being aggressive
The opening partnership for any team in the upcoming Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 is going to be vital and those runs in the powerplay need to come in an aggressive manner so that they can lay a solid platform for a huge total on the board.
This aggressive brand of cricket at the top of the batting order is something India have recognised, and that was why they decided to drop Shikhar Dhawan from the ODI set-up, who had a strike rate of just 78.80 in the opening slot in ODIs since 2021.
The new opening pair of Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma began the series on a hostile note, registering a 143-run opening stand in just 19.4 overs in the first ODI at Guwahati, where Rohit fired up with 83 runs in 67 balls at a strike rate of 123.88 with nine boundaries and three sixes while Gill made his way to a 60-ball 70. However, without taking any credit from their greatness, the pitch at the Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Guwahati was absolutely flat and batting-friendly.
When they were required to give the team another good start chasing 216 at the Eden Gardens in the second game, they failed scoring just 33 in five overs. But they again offered India a decent start in the third game when they smashed 95 in 15.2 overs as an opening pair. Nonetheless, they need to continue this sort of batting even against other strong bowling line-ups.
Even after the pressure and competition that Gill faces from Ishan Kishan, the former batted really well in the series putting on 207 runs in three innings at an average of 69 and strike rate of 122.48 with one fifty and one hundred. The slight concern could come for the India captain Rohit Sharma who even after getting starts in the series has failed to convert them into big scores; he smacked 142 runs in three innings at an average of 47.33 and strike rate of 103.64 with just one fifty as his century drought in this format continues to grow.
India face healthy headache in selection of middle order
Too many options in the middle order gives India a good headache to have. Looking at how India progressed in the series, it seems like they have locked KL Rahul at number five in the playing eleven. When they had a chance to rest Rahul and try to give game time to Ishan Kishan in the middle order, they decided to give a break to Hardik Pandya to include Suryakumar Yadav in the side.
But with SKY coming at number six, India were down on their bowling options as when Surya came in to bat in the third game, India had just around three overs left of their allotted 50 overs. With Rahul doing good in the second ODI game to take India over the line, the team management has given the impression to continue with him for a longer time.
It means India can have one between Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan; the latter can also provide the wicketkeeping option, but India need to give them some game time especially in the middle order, so that when needed, they will be fully prepared for the situation.
Siraj and Kuldeep mark the series with valuable contributions
One of the reasons for India to do well in the powerplay with the new ball is the enormous rise of Mohammed Siraj who has been excellent in the last few months in the 50-over format. His Test performances have also helped him in acquiring new skills.
Since 2022 in ODIs, Siraj has earned 23 wickets in 18 games in the first 10 overs at an average of 14 and economy of just 3.87. On a flat deck in Guwahati, Siraj was excellent with the ball ending with 2/30 in his seven overs including a maiden. Both of his wickets were of the top order batters. He continued the same form in the second game where he ended with 3/30 in 5.4 overs, while his 10 consecutive overs in the third ODI game fetched him returns of 4/32 that broke Sri Lanka’s back.
Along with Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav who doesn’t get a lot of games for India in the presence of Yuzvendra Chahal, shined with great numbers. He seems to have brought in a change in his bowling run-up where he tends to bring his body little closer to the stumps which has been giving him little more chance to spin the ball. In the absence of Chahal, coming in the second game of the series, Kuldeep picked up 3/51 in 10 overs while in the last game, he had figures of 2/16 in five overs; the ball that disturbed the stumps of Dasun Shanaka spoke about his high skill levels.
Siraj finished the series with nine wickets in three games at an average of 10.22 and economy of 4.05, while Kuldeep had five wickets in two games at an average of 13.40 and economy of 4.46.
India need to give more time to Arshdeep Singh
India were superb in most departments through the series. But their decision to keep Arshdeep Singh needs to have a second look. The left-arm seam option is going to be vital in the upcoming series.
The upcoming games for India against New Zealand and Australia are going to be more challenging than the recently concluded games against Sri Lanka, and Arshdeep Singh’s role in those games will be valuable for India; it will be interesting to see how the home side draw their team giving proper rest to the players.
India will now face New Zealand in a three-match ODI series, with the first ODI to take place on January 18 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad.