India captain Virat Kohli smashed 139 not out as they chased 289 runs against the visiting Sri Lanka during their 5th and final ODI of the series at Ranchi yesterday. India also won their previous 4 ODIs of the series.
“We’re playing for pride, and we’re not the kind of team to lose 5-0,” Angelo Mathews had said at the toss. Though the remainder of the top order did not live out those words on a spin-friendly track in Ranchi, Mathews took on the job himself. His intelligently paced 138 not out off 114 balls was first the spine, then the muscle of Sri Lanka’s first competitive score, of 286 for 7, this series. Other batsmen contributed in spurts - Thirimanne the most notable among them, sticking by Mathews in Sri Lanka’s biggest partnership of the series, as he collected a second fifty on the trot himself.
Both times India batted first in the series, they had conquered the opposition by conserving wickets, then surging powerfully in the last 15 overs, and Mathews adopted that blueprint as he hit a long-awaited maiden ton. Having arrived at the crease at 73 for 3, he was cautious at the outset, sinking 36 balls into his first 15 runs, and seeing out 41 deliveries before hitting his first boundary.
His 128-run stand with Thirimanne was measured work. Sri Lanka did not lose a wicket in the batting Powerplay for the first time in the series, but they were also thoroughly unambitious through that stretch. Mathews hit a six off the 40th over to reach his half-century, and yet Sri Lanka scored only 26 with the field pulled in.