Things have not gotten better for the hosts in the limited-overs format as the Men in Blue are all set to take the ODI series 5-0 for the first time in Sri Lanka when the two teams meet for the fifth and final match of the series in Colombo on Sunday, September 3.
India had previously beaten Sri Lanka 5-0 at home during the 2014/15 tour. While blanking Zimbabwe has become a habit, the Asian giants have also completed 5-0 whitewashes against New Zealand and England at home in 2010-11 and 2012-13 respectively.
Ruthless approach from India
India, as Kohli hinted, have been ruthless throughout the ongoing tour. After taking the first ODI in Dambulla with ease, India were made to work hard for the second and third ODI wins in Pallekele. Former skipper MS Dhoni played crucial roles in both the wins as the team went on to clinch an unassailable lead at the end of the third match, last Sunday.
Kohli made three changes to the team in Colombo on Thursday, August 31 as youngsters Manish Pandey, Kuldeep Yadav and Shardul Thakur got opportunities to be in the playing XI. Despite the changes, India did not take the foot off the pedal, slamming 375 runs in their quota of 50 overs.
5th ODI starts at 2:30pm IST.
TV: Star Sports 1/Star Sports 1 HD. Live streaming: Hotstar
Skipper Kohli was ecstatic, looking at a belter of a wicket at the R Premadasa Stadium during the toss on Thursday and had no second thoughts about opting to bat first. The 28-year-old slammed his 29th ODI century -- 96-ball 131 -- stitching a 219-run stand with Rohit Sharma, who reached his second straight ton.
Sri Lanka came up with yet another spineless display of batting before succumbing to their largest margin of defeat at home -- 168 runs.
"New guys" to get another opportunity
Kohli has hinted the youngsters will get one more opportunity as the team goes for the kill on Sunday. Notably, all the three -- Kuldeep (2/31), Thakur (1/26) and Pandey (42-ball 50), chipped in on Thursday.
"We've given opportunities to three new guys. They will get another opportunity. The batting order is flexible and we can experiment depending on the situation of the game," Kohli said after India's win in the 4th ODI.
Focus on KL Rahul
India batting line-up has been tested in the series, but it has responded well so far. The openers -- Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma -- have been amongst the runs, while KL Rahul will be given yet another opportunity to prove his worth in the middle order. Notably, the Karnataka batsman has struggled to get going in the series, scoring just 28 runs in three innings.
The focus will be on skipper Kohli, who is in line to become the joint second on the list of most ODI centuries. Notably, the Delhi dasher has 29 tons and needs one more to equal Ricky Ponting's record.
Thakur is expected to retain his place in the side alongside fellow pacer Jasprit Bumrah. Kohli might want to give Yuzvendra Chahal another chance. Axar Patel, who has picked up six wickets so far, is likely to make way for the wrist-spinner.
Can Upul Tharanga inspire the hosts?
On the other hand, Sri Lanka, who are in danger of missing out on an automatic qualifying spot for the 2019 World Cup, will look to avoid another humiliating defeat. Injuries to key players and change in captaincy have not helped the hosts' cause as they have failed to garner any momentum so far.
Lasith Malinga will now hand over the captaincy to Upul Tharanga, who will be returning to the playing XI following the end of his two-match suspension. The Mumbai Indians' pacer has been a letdown in the series as he has failed to inspire the pace attack, which has leaked aplenty.
Sri Lanka's chances with the ball rest heavily on Akila Dananjaya, who ran through the Indian batting order in the second ODI.
Tharanga would want Sri Lanka's brightest batting prospect Kusal Mendis to step-up and deliver on Sunday. The 22-year-old has found strange ways to get out, managing only 57 runs from four innings so far.
India: Virat Kohli (C), MS Dhoni (wk), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Manish Pandey, Kuldeep Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Lokesh Rahul, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ajinkya Rahane, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kedar Jadhav, Yuzvendra Chahal.
Sri Lanka: Lasith Malinga (C), Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Milinda Siriwardana, Vishwa Fernando, Dilshan Munaweera, Malinda Pushpakumara, Akila Dananjaya, Kusal Mendis, Wanidu Hasaranga, Thisara Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Danushka Gunathilaka, Dushmantha Chameera, Lakshan Sandakan.