India bulldozed Sri Lanka by 168 runs in the fourth one-day international on Thursday after skipper Virat Kohli and opener Rohit Sharma smashed blistering hundreds to put the tourists 4-0 up in the five-match series.
The result was Sri Lanka’s biggest ODI defeat on home soil in terms of runs and leaves them unable to claim the two victories they needed in the series to ensure automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup.
Sri Lanka were also whiteashed 3-0 by India in the preceding test series, prompting the entire selection panel to resign.
With the ODI series already in the bag, India amassed 375-5 after electing to bat and had looked on course for a 400-plus total while Kohli and Sharma were at the crease.
Not that it really mattered as Sri Lanka collapsed to 207 in 42.4 overs in reply, with only Angelo Mathews offering any real resistance with a fighting 70.
India lost opener Shikhar Dhawan cheaply but Kohli and Sharma dominated Sri Lanka’s toothless attack during their 219-run stand for the second wicket.
Kohli was in sublime form and, having set the tone with a hat-trick of fours against Vishwa Fernando early on, needed only 76 balls to bring up his 29th ODI century.
Lasith Malinga ended the batting onslaught by dismissing Kohli for 131, the paceman’s 300th ODI wicket. Kohli’s 96-ball knock included 17 boundaries and two sixes.
India were still scoring briskly but Mathews dismissed Hardik Pandya and Sharma off successive balls to put a brake on the scoring rate.
Sharma’s 104 -- his second successive ton -- came off 88 balls including three sixes and 11 fours.
Manish Pandey compiled 50 not out as he and Mahendra Singh Dhoni put on 101 in an unbroken sixth-wicket partnership, with former captain Dhoni undefeated on 49 in his 300th ODI.
With the home side’s regular ODI captain Upul Tharanga serving a suspension for the team’s slow over rate and stand-in skipper Chamara Kapugedera nursing a back injury, Malinga led a Sri Lanka side that now faces a second successive series whitewash going into Sunday’s final match.
R. Sharma c Dickwella b Mathews 104
S. Dhawan c Pushpakumara b V. Fernando 4
V. Kohli c Munaweera b Malinga 131
H. Pandya c Hasaranga b Mathews 19
L. Rahul c Hasaranga b Dananjaya 7
M. Pandey not out 50
M. Dhoni not out 49
Extras (lb-5 w-6) 11
Total (for 5 wickets, 50 overs) 375
Fall of wickets: 1-6 S. Dhawan,2-225 V. Kohli,3-262 H. Pandya,4-262 Ro. Sharma,5-274 L. Rahul
Did not bat: A. Patel, K. Yadav, J. Bumrah, S. Thakur
Lasith Malinga 10 - 0 - 82 - 1(w-6)
Vishwa Fernando 8 - 1 - 76 - 1
Angelo Mathews 6 - 2 - 24 - 2
Malinda Pushpakumara 9 - 0 - 65 - 0
Akila Dananjaya 10 - 0 - 68 - 1
Wanidu Hasaranga 2 - 0 - 19 - 0
Milinda Siriwardana 5 - 0 - 36 - 0
Sri Lanka Innings
Niroshan Dickwella c Dhoni b Thakur 14
Dilshan Munaweera c Dhoni b Bumrah 11
Kusal Mendis run out (, Rahul) 1
Lahiru Thirimanne c S. Dhawan b H. Pandya 18
Angelo Mathews c Thakur b A. Patel 70
Milinda Siriwardana c Dhoni b H. Pandya 39
Wanidu Hasaranga run out (Bumrah, A. Patel) 22
Akila Dananjaya not out 11
Malinda Pushpakumara c H. Pandya b Bumrah 3
Vishwa Fernando c&b K. Yadav 5
Lasith Malinga b K. Yadav 0
Extras (lb-1 w-12) 13
Total (all out, 42.4 overs) 207
Fall of wickets: 1-22 N. Dickwella,2-26 K. Mendis,3-37 D. Munaweera,4-68 L. Thirimanne,5-141 M. Siriwardana,6-177 W. Hasaranga,7-190 A. Mathews,8-196 M. Pushpakumara,9-207 V. Fernando,10-207 L. Malinga
S. Thakur 7 - 0 - 26 - 1(w-2)
J. Bumrah 7 - 0 - 32 - 2(w-5)
H. Pandya 8 - 0 - 50 - 2(w-4)
V. Kohli 2 - 0 - 12 - 0
K. Yadav 8.4 - 1 - 31 - 2
A. Patel 10 - 0 - 55 - 1(w-1)
Seamer Lasith Malinga believes the team will have to toughen up and execute better if it wants to compete against India in an ODI series the hosts trail 3-0 with two games left.
Malinga, one short of the 300-wicket mark but tasked with leading the team for Thursday’s fourth one-dayer at the Premadasa Stadium, said Sri Lanka still had the depth to bounce back.
“There’s no shortage of talent and skill in our team, but there is a shortcoming in how we execute that. We need to fix our mentality,” Malinga said on the match eve.
“My main goal is to try and instill a mentality whereby players are able to deal with tough situations and persevere. If that is successful, we will be able to get a good result tomorrow.”
Sri Lanka cricket is in crisis. After the third ODI in Pallekele ended with fans throwing bottles into the ground to express their angst, the selection committee headed by former skipper Sanath Jayasuriya tendered its resignation.
On the eve of the match, interim coach, Nic Pothas, was in a long conversation with SLC president, Thilanga Sumathipala, at the stadium. Malinga and team manager, Asanka Gurusinha, who also quit as selector, joined in after a while.
Malinga said: “I feel captaincy is a good challenge for me. At the moment, we have lost a few matches, yes. I have played for the last 14 years for the national team, and I still feel we have good young players, and a few experienced players also.
“This is the time we have to stand up and give confidence to young players, that still we are good enough to play international cricket.
People think we are not top of the table, but we can change that.”
Malinga has been under fire since ending a long injury-forced layoff to return for the June ICC Champions Trophy. However, he defended his measly returns, having taken just one wicket in three games.
“I didn’t play for 19 months because of injury. I’ve only played a couple of series since then. Now I feel I am getting better. Everyone knows how major my leg injuries are. Now I feel really comfortable to bowl 10 overs.
“As a bowler I’ve not been able to get wickets in the last couple of series. A lot of people have talked about that. In fact there has been more talk in the last couple of months than in the previous 14 years. (But) I’m used to that.”
Malinga said he was not fretting about his impending milestone and there was no upheaval in the camp. “I have no special aim to get 300 wickets. I play to get wickets in every match. I’m ready to play until 2023.”
Sri Lanka: With Dinesh Chandimal and Chamara Kapugedara out with injuries doubts remain over the fitness of Danushka Gunathilaka , Dilshan Munaweera and Dhananjaya de Silva have been included in the squad for the fourth ODI and one of them could feature in the eleven.
India: Manish Pandey may get an opportunity in this game in place of Jadhav. Shardul Thakur, could feature in his maiden ODI while Bhuvneshwar could be rested. Kuldeep Yadav is also likely to play and it remains to be seen if it's a swap between left-arm spinners or wrist spinners.
Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga (capt), Dilshan Munaweera, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Mendis, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Milinda Siriwardana, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dushmantha Chameera, Akila Dananjaya, Vishwa Fernando.
India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur.