Virat Kohli India
India skipper Virat Kohli was just plain unstoppable against Sri Lanka in the 5th ODIPal Pillai/Sportzpics/BCCI

It was a tale of two captains in this 5th and final ODI between India and Sri Lanka in Ranchi.

Angelo Mathews did his bit with the bat and ball for Sri Lanka, striking a delightful century to guide his team to a challenging score. Mathews then decided to influence the proceedings with the ball as well, dismissing the India openers – Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma – to give Sri Lanka the impetus.

But then, India have their own ridiculously good captain as well, and Virat Kohli decided to get into his batting mood on Sunday night in MS Dhoni's hometown, and how.

Kohli did what he has done time and again, and again, and again, for India over the past few years in the ODI game, smashing a delectable century, an unbeaten one at that, to ensure India would complete a 5-0 whitewash over Sri Lanka.

For Sri Lanka, at least, this final ODI was actually a contest, a match which looked like going either way until the end instead of looking dead and buried halfway through.

Staring at a whitewash, Sri Lanka needed to step up and pull one out of the bag to show there was even a semblance of fight left in them, and Mathews certainly showed that with the bat, striking a delightful unbeaten 139 in 116 balls (6x4, 10x6) to take his team to 286 for eight in their 50 overs.

With the ball stopping and also giving some turn, it was never going to be an easy chase for India, and if not for Kohli (139 n.o., 126b, 12x4, 3x6) and his majestic skills with the willow, Sri Lanka might have just sneaked their first win of the series. Instead, it was Kohli and India who won their fifth straight game against Sri Lanka, chasing down the target in 48.4 overs with three wickets to spare.

India did not get to their customary solid start, with Rahane sent packing in just the third over, cleaned up by Mathews off a delivery that kept low and hit the middle of the stumps.

A couple of overs later, Mathews has his second victim, and a second bowled as well as Rohit, the record breaker from the last match went for a hoick only to miss the ball and see his timber disturbed.

A partnership was needed and a partnership was provided by Kohli and Ambati Rayudu, who put on 136 in 23.3 overs to push that ship back on course. It was patient, wonderfully elegant and extremely effective batting again from the duo, with Kohli unfurling strokes that is only in his armoury.

As long as the two remained at the crease India were going to cruise to the target, and Sri Lanka desperately needed a breakthrough. Unfortunately for India, that breakthrough came via a misunderstanding between the two batsmen, with Rayudu (59, 69b, 8x4, 1x6), for the second time in the series, having to walk back to the pavilion with that dismissal area reading run out.

Despite that wicket, with the score at 150 for three in 28 overs, India were still favourites, especially with the indefatigable Kohli at the crease. With Robin Uthappa, looking to cement his place in the India team, and Kedar Jadhav, making his debut, the next two batsmen, though, Sri Lanka would have smelled some blood as well, and that proved to be the case, to a certain extent.

Uthappa (19, 21b, 2x4) stuck around with Kohli for 30 runs, before flicking an Ajantha Mendis delivery to Mathews, who took a splendid diving catch at midwicket. Jadhav (20, 24b, 3x4) did the same as well, staying with Kohli for 35 runs, before Mendis (9.4-0-73-4) struck again.

The Sri Lanka spinner was not done as he also sent Stuart Binny (12, 15b, 2x4) packing a little while later, before dismissing R Ashwin lbw first ball to leave India on 231 for seven in the 44th over.

With Kohli, who reached his 21st century with a calm-as-they-come dab down third man, at the crease, though, India, who needed 56 from the final seven overs, were still very much in it, especially with the capable Akshar Patel (17, 14b, 2x4) at the other end.

After a couple of steady overs, India had 47 runs to chase down in the last five overs, and in stepped that magic man Kohli to release the pressure with a tonk over extra cover for six and a thump straight down the ground for four off the man who had done all the late damage – Mendis.

A 13-run over, courtesy another sumptuous boundary from Kohli, in the next over bowled by Shaminda Eranga meant India needed just 21 from the final 18 balls, and there was no way those runs were not going to be chased down, not with that ODI batsman extraordinaire at the crease with Kohli finishing the match off with a brilliant six.

Angelo Mathews Sri Lanka Robin Uthappa Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews celebrates after completing his maiden ODI centuryIANS

Earlier, Sri Lanka never looked like even remotely getting to 286 at the 20-over mark, as they slumped to 85 for four in the 19th over, with Mahela Jayawardene (32, 33b, 5x4), Tillakaratne Dilshan (35, 24b, 7x4), despite a quick start, Niroshan Dickwella, in for Kusal Perera, and Dinesh Chandimal all disappointing with the bat.

It needed a strong, patient and crucial partnership of 128 runs between Mathews and Lahiru Thirimanne (52, 76b, 2x4, 1x6) to get Sri Lanka back on track, with the right and left-hand duo slowly batting their team back into the game.

That partnership set the platform for Mathews to go slam-bang in the final overs, and go slam-bang he did, and in some style too, tonking the Indian bowlers for sixes at will, with the home team's bowlers finally looking a little fallible.

Sri Lanka, from 172 for four after 40 overs, slammed 114 runs in the final ten overs, with Mathews in the forefront of those "man did we need those" runs, to drive the away side to a score that they could at least think of defending, and which they would have probably defended if not for that man Kohli.

Also read