Bhubaneswar: Though after winning the toss Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews had no hesitation in electing to bowl first considering the dew factor in the Barabati ODI in Cuttack on Sunday, Indian openers Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan not only hit centuries, but also set a new first wicket score record at the venue with a 231-run partnership.
The massive first wicket stand was not only a solid foundation for Team India in absence of their regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, but it too provided enough entertainment to the more than 45,000 crowd at jam packed Barabati Stadium.
Remind you, despite two matches being allotted to Barabati in the last two years (India-Australia ODI in October 2013 and West Indies-India Twenty20 International on October 24, 2014), not a single ball was bowled due to different reasons and the crowd was starving for some international match action at their backyard. While the India-Australia ODI was cancelled last year due to inclement weather and poor ground conditions after Cyclone Phailin impact, the T20 India-WI T20 this year was called off as the Caribbeans abandoned their India tour midway.
But all that loss of action was nearly compensated by Indian openers on Sunday. While Rahane (111 in 108 balls) and Dhawan (113 in 107 balls) made mockery of the not so experienced Lankan attack at Barabati on the tour opener, India scored 363/5 in the allotted 50 overs. The duo broke Ravi Shastri and K Sikanth’s previous first wicket ODI record at Barabati.
Well, being aware that records are meant to be broken, Shastri, the director of India team sitting at the pavilion was seen cheering the new found left-right Delhi-Mumbai opening pair of India. Remind you left-handed Dhawan is a regular member of Delhi Ranji side, while Rahane adds batting solidity to the Mumbai Ranji squad.
The Cuttack crowd could not have imagined more thrill on a fine cricket friendly conditioned ground on a Sunday. The ease with which Rahane and Dhawan toyed with the Lankan attack, it proved there is no demon at Barabati pitch, which often is termed as a not a run feast venue.
Man in fine knick Suresh Raina promoted ahead of stand-in skipper Virat Kohli joined the party too with 52, hitting four boundaries and three huge sixes. The UP boy proved with his massive hitting skills, why even in a conservative state like Odisha, young girls dare to break the security cordon and kiss him openly and feel elated.
Well, with Kohli (22), Ambati Rayudu (27) and young sensation Akshar Patel hitting two sixes in his 4-ball 14, hosts India appeared to have done well to have proved once again, why they are the most feared batting side in the world in modern day cricket.
However, with Rahane hitting two centuries at the top of the order in his limited opportunities in a short span as Team India opener in absence of his Mumbai-teammate Rohit Sharma, who is nursing a injury, the problem of plenty seems to be satisfying the team management.