India 373 for 7 (Kohli 113, Rohit 83, Gill 70, Rajitha 3-88) beat Sri Lanka 306 for 8 (Shanaka 108*, Nissanka 72, Malik 3-57, Siraj 2-30) by 67 runs
Of all India’s outstanding innings, Gill’s was the purest, reliant as it was on his glorious timing, particularly through the off side. And it was the knock that first signalled a monster total was in the making. He creamed not-particularly-wide, not-particularly-short deliveries square through the offside in the early overs.
By the end of the fifth, Gill had raced to 25 off 17, but then Rohit took over. In one particularly disheartening sequence for Sri Lanka, he walloped Rajitha for two sixes and a four – all using his famed pull shot, one of those sixes coming after he had charged the bowler. His was an increasingly dismissive innings.
They raced to their fiftes, the spreading of the field and the arrival of serious spin barely tempering the pair’s scoring rate. The partnership was not without a little luck – both batters could have been out in their 40s, had the standing umpire given them out lbw (the reviews were denied because of umpire’s call).
Kohli had some luck too, dropped once on 52, and another time on 81, Rajitha the bowler on both occasions. Otherwise, he blazed his way through the middle overs. He charged Shanaka to pound him through mid-on to fetch his first boundary, was brutal on errors of length from the spinners, and was strong down the ground against the quicks.
He got to his half-century with a six over wide mid-on off Dhananjaya de Silva, having come down the track. By this stage, with roughly 35 overs bowled, he and Rahul were deep into a partnership that reaped 90 off 70 balls. Kohli scored especially heavily in the arc between mid-on and midwicket, but had shots everywhere, of course. When he got to his hundred off his 80th ball, India were already pushing 350.
Thanks partly to Kohli not quite exploding in the death as he would have wished, however, India made only 70 runs in their last nine overs. At 303 for 3 after 41 overs, a total of 400 was conceivable.
There were those who tried to revive the chase though. De Silva and Nissanka put on 72 off 65 for the fourth wicket, de Silva hitting a pleasing 47 off 40. Nissanka’s 72 off 80 was probably a little slow given the circumstances, but will perhaps be a further stepping stone on the journey of his growth.
But then Sri Lanka lost four wickets for 45, leaving Shanaka only in the company of the tail, and the whole enterprise became about getting Shanaka as big a score as possible, the victory having long since slipped. He took his sweet time getting in, making only 31 off his first 41 balls, striking just the single four and six in that period.
Soon though, he started smashing it. He got to his 50 off 50 balls, then turning down many singles in order to give No. 10 Rajitha only the last two balls of most overs, he strode to a century off 87 deliveries, moving to triple-figures off the penultimate ball of the innings.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf