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India skipper lauded for ‘great sportsmanship’

India skipper Rohit Sharma has won praise for withdrawing a ‘Mankad’ run-out appeal against Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka in the opening one-day international.

Shanaka was on 98 when pace bowler Mohammed Shami ran out the opposition batsman for backing up at the non-striker’s end in the final over in Guwahati.

“I had no idea he (Shami) did that (run-out) when he went up for an appeal,” Rohit told broadcasters Star Sports after the win.

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“We cannot get him out like that. We wanted to get him out, we thought we will get him out, but that was not something we thought off. But again, hats off to him, he played really well.”

Shanaka went on to get his second ODI century with an unbeaten 108, but India went on to hammer the tourists by 67 runs to lead the three-match series 1-0.

But it was Rohit’s sportsmanship that was lauded by former Sri Lankan cricketers including Sanath Jayasuriya.

“The real winner was the sportsmanship of Rohit Sharma for refusing to take the run out. I doff my cap to you!,” Jayasuriya wrote on Twitter.

Former player Angelo Mathews said, “Not many captains would do this but hats off to @ImRo45 for withdrawing the appeal even though the law says so! Displaying great sportsmanship.”

India reached a commanding 373-7 in its 50 overs with half-centuries from Sharma (83) and Shubman Gill (70). Sri Lanka was restricted to 306-8 in reply as skipper Dasun Shanaka’s 108 runs not out off 88 balls went in vain.

The wisdom of Sri Lanka’s decision to bowl first looked doubtful from the start as Sharma and Gill put on 143 runs off 118 balls for the first wicket.

Returning from a finger injury, Sharma reached 50 off 41 balls. At the other end, Gill continued his good ODI run with 50 off 51 balls.

Shanaka (1-22) got the breakthrough before Kohli arrived at the crease and beaten almost to the end of the innings.

It was Kohli’s ninth ODI hundred against Sri Lanka, overtaking Sachin Tendulkar’s record of eight centuries for India against the same opposition. Kohli is also now four short of Tendulkar’s all-time record of 49 ODI hundreds. Overall, it was Kohli’s 73rd international century.

“I was hitting the ball nicely. It was close to the template I play with,” Kohli said. “I am in a comfortable career space now and playing for the right reasons.”

Kohli scored 12 fours and had six aces India crossed 200 in 27 overs. He brought up his 50 off 47 balls.

India lost Shreyas Iyer (28) in the 30th over. Kohli then added 90 runs for the fourth wicket with Lokesh Rahul (39) to take India past the 300 mark. India added 79 runs in the final 10 overs.

Sri Lanka faltered against disciplined fast bowling. Mohammed Siraj (2-30) struck early blows, removing Avishka Fernando (5) and Kusal Mendis (0).

Umran Malik (3-57) dismissed Charith Asalanka (23) to reduce Sri Lanka to 64-3 in 14 overs. Pathum Nissanka helped to hold the innings together with 72 off 80 balls, including 11 fours.

Sri Lanka was down to 206-8 but Shanaka was unperturbed in a run-a-ball half-century.

He hit 12 fours and three sixes to accelerate to a second ODI hundred. He added 100 runs off 73 balls for the unbroken ninth wicket with Kasun Rajitha only contributing 9 runs as the pair reduced the scale of defeat for Sri Lanka.

The second ODI is on Thursday at Kolkata.

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