Team India record eight series wins on the trot
Day 4 - Sri Lanka ended Day 3 on a strong note after Team India enforced the follow on. Dimuth Karunaratne was his usual assured self, enhancing his reputation as a second-innings specialist with an average of 77 from his last 10 Tests in the second essay. He was accompanied by Pushpakumara, the nightwatchman.
The pitch had slowed down as even the nightwatchman, Pushpakumara (16) hung around for 45 minutes until he was bowled by R. Ashwin. Karunaratne was then joined by skipper Dinesh Chandimal. However, the captain failed to get going falling prey to Ravindra Jadeja. Angelo Mathews then took charge and made life difficult for the Indian bowlers. At lunch, Sri Lanka had crossed the 300-run mark with six wickets in hand.
Post the interval, it was Jadeja's snorter that left Karunaratne surprised, as he nicked the unplayable delivery into the hands of Ajinkya Rahane at first slip. A brilliant innings had come to an end as most of India's close-in fielders ran over to Karunaratne (141) to congratulate him for his outstanding knock.
Jadeja got into his groove, dismissing Mathews (36) Dilruwan Perera (4) and DM de Silva (17) in a short span. Soon, it was all over for Sri Lanka as the hosts crumbled under pressure to be bowled out for 386 and hand an innings and 53 run victory to the visitors.
India wrapped up a series victory away from home in eight days of Test cricket and they were only challenged over the last two days. The result was evident from the moment Team India racked up a total of 622 and enforced the follow-on. Ravindra Jadeja was awarded Man of the Match for his brilliant 1st innings 70 runs with bat & two wickets plus a Five-for in the second innings.
Day 3 - Sri Lanka started Day 3 on 50/2 with Kusal Mendis (16*) and Dinesh Chandimal (8*) at the crease. The Sri Lankan captain departed soon as he fell into the trap, sweeping to Jadeja. His partner was next to follow when Kohli took a good catch running back. They were reduced to 64/4 and were struggling at the start. Mathews and Dickwella then came up with a 50-run partnership to put some delight on the Sri Lankan faces. Mathews had to depart for 26, courtesy a great catch by Pujara at leg gully. With score of 117/5, in came Dhananjaya de Silva.
India were on top again as Silva (0) and Herath (2) went back to the pavilion quickly. Dilruwan Perera added 25 runs as Dickwella reached to his fifty. Ravichandran Ashwin then took the last two wickets as their innings ended on 183. India decided to enforce the follow-on with a huge lead of 439 runs. The off-spinner finished with 5 wickets (his 26th time in Tests) as Shami and Jadeja picked 2 wickets each.
Sri Lanka, with that huge mountain to climb, needed a good start. But that was not to happen as Umesh Yadav removed Upul Tharanga for just 2 runs. With a wicket so early, there were fear that Sri Lanka would crumble once again, but Mendis and Karunaratne had other plans. The duo were cautious at the start on a pitch which was misbehaving sometimes. They attacked the loose balls and respected the good ones. While Mendis played his unorthodox shots as well, Karunaratne was solid as a rock at the other end. Mendis was first one to reach to his individual fifty as Sri Lanka crossed 100.
The partnership grew as Kohli tried everything. The batsmen were beaten but did enough not to edge the ball. Kusal Mendis brought up his 3rd Test hundred as they were then trailing by less than 250 runs. Kohli brought in Hardik Pandya and the plan worked as he dismissed the centurion off a slower ball. Saha dived forward to take a good catch as the 191-run partnership ended. Sri Lanka sent nightwatchman, Malinda Pushpakumara for the remaining overs as India attacked in the end. But there was no success for the visitors with Sri Lanka ending Day 3 on 209/2, trailing by 230 runs.
Day 2 - Team India lost both the centurions, Cheteshwar Pujara (133) & Ajinkya Rahane (132) at the start of the play of the 2nd Day. As both, Karunaratne and Pushpakumara got their maiden Test wicket respectively. Sri Lanka did have a few moments to celebrate before lunch. However, Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha took things forward from there for Team India and made half centuries (54 & 67 respectively). Sri Lankan bowlers were finding it difficult to find a way past them. Soon after, Ashwin hit a six to complete his half century, he fell prey to Herath in the very next delivery. R. Ashwin is the 4th Indian to get to 2000 runs and 200 wickets in Test after Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.
It was Hardik Pandya's turn to walk in to the crease and fire India to a commendable total. He did look as if he was sent to play a One-Day innings as he scored a run-a-ball to 20. Pushpakumara was sent to break the partnership between Pandya and Saha and he sure succeeded. With a lovely flight given to Pandya outside off, he came down the track for a big hit through long-off. As he didn't quite get to the pitch, he ended up lobbing the ball up and fell in Mathews' hands at long-off. It was a nice cameo!
At No. 8, Ravindra Jadeja came in to bat alongside the set batsmen Wriddhiman Saha who completed his Fifty soon after drinks. India continued to pile runs and misery on Sri Lanka. But Herath was again the man for Sri Lanka to dismiss Saha on 67. Jadeja took over the attack and quick fired an 85 balls 70 run. Virat Kohli declared on 622 for 9, giving the opposition 20 overs to survive.
As soon as Sri Lankan openers came in to bat, Upul Tharanga fell for a duck of an Ashwin's delivery. Indian spinners continued to create more chances as the hard new ball offered more turn off the pitch and Dimuth Karunaratne succumbed for 25. R Ashwin was the successful bowler on both the occasions with his exceptional off-breaks as Sri Lanka ended the day 50 for 2 in 20 overs.
Day 1 - Virat Kohli won the toss on a bright sunny day in Colombo with Team India making one change in their line-up, Rahul came in for Abhinav Mukund. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, made three changes as Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva and Malinda Pushpakumara were included in the team.
India were off to a flyer with both openers scoring runs freely. Rahul looked positive in his comeback match with Dhawan playing his natural game. The 50-run partnership was brought up in the 9th over. Dhawan was the first one to depart after making 35 off 37 balls which brought in Cheteshwar Pujara, who was playing his 50th Test. After Dhawan’s departure, these two added another 50 runs as India brought up their 100. Rahul completed his seventh fifty and became only the third Indian after Gundappa Vishwanath and Rahul Dravid to score six successive fifty-plus scores in Tests. At Lunch, India were 101/1.
Rahul departed soon in the second session as a mix-up cost him his wicket. He made 57 as Kohli arrived at the crease. Kohli, who scored a ton in the last innings failed to make this a big one as he was caught at first slip off Herath. But after 133/3, it was the Pujara-Rahane show for the visitors. The duo was at their best with Pujara scoring his 50 in 112 balls. Rahane was at his flamboyant best with scoring at a strike rate over 80 at the start. Sri Lanka failed to take any wicket thereafter with the scoreboard reading 238/3 at Tea.
It was double delight for the Indian fans with Rahane reaching to his 13th Test fifty and Pujara scoring his 13th Test ton. Runs continued to flow with Lankans trying everything to break the partnership. It was Rahane’s turn to move close to his hundred. Sri Lanka took the second new ball as soon as it was available. Frustration grew more for the hosts as their only pacer, Nuwan Pradeep had to leave the field in the 81st over itself. Rahane completed his 9th Test hundred with India ending Day 1 at 344/3.