India go 1-0 up in the 3-match Test series as they beat Sri Lanka by an innings and 239 runs (equalling their biggest win in Tests). Ravichandran Ashwin (4/32) and co. created havoc on Day 4 as the match finished just after lunch. The off-spinner picked up his 300th Test wicket and became the fastest to reach that milestone. Here’s how the Test unfolded.
Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne stepped on the field on Day 4 with a gigantic task in front of them. The visitors were way behind India’s total and they needed something special in order to overcome that deficit. But Indian bowlers had other plans. Ravindra Jadeja took the first wicket of the day to send Karunaratne (18) back. Angelo Mathews, who was nowhere near his best, arrived at the crease. Thirimanne was happy to block the balls and be there at the crease. But due to a lapse of concentration, Umesh Yadav removed the set batsman when he sliced it straight to Jadeja at backward point. After starting positively, Sri Lanka suddenly were 48/3.
With Mathews and Chandimal, Sri Lanka had their best batsmen at the crease. The current and former captain tried to build the innings, but Jadeja struck again to remove Mathews (10). Lankan batsmen were not able to stay for long at the crease as India moved closer towards a Test win. Niroshan Dickwella (4) was the next to follow as half of the side was back in the hut for 75. With the match going in one direction, i.e. India win, Dasun Shanaka (17) relied on playing his shots. But after hitting two sixes and one four, he got out to Ashwin while attempting to hit him one more time.
In his next over, Ashwin picked up two wickets in three balls as Dilruwan Perera (0) and Rangana Herath (0) returned without troubling the scorers. Ashwin picked up 50 Test wickets for a third straight year and had 299 Test wickets to his name. With Sri Lanka being 110/8, lunch was extended by another 15 minutes but India failed to take the remaining wickets. Dinesh Chandimal, the only batsman who showed some resilience completed his 14th Test fifty. Only one result was looking evident from here and it was just time before India took the two wickets.
After showing some patience in the post-lunch session, Chandimal (61) and Gamage (0) lost their wickets. While Umesh picked up the former, Ashwin removed the latter. It was also Ashwin’s 300 Test wicket. Virat Kohli won the Man of the Match award for his heroic 213 which helped India to post such a mammoth total.
Virat Kohli took Sri Lanka by storm on Day 3 by claiming the most number of centuries by an Indian captain. Until last July, Virat Kohli had no double-centuries and he now has five. Only Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar are the Indians with more.
It was a bright sunny day when Cheteshwar Pujara (121*) and Kohli (54*) walked on to the crease on Day 3 with India being 312/2, with a lead of 107 runs. Both the Indian batsmen were watchful at the start, however by the fourth over, Virat Kohli began to score quick runs while Pujara continued to play the old-fashioned way.
The Sri Lankan seamers tried going round the wicket while Herath tried going over, but there was hardly a cause of concern for Team India. It was just before lunch where Cheteshwar Pujara (143) fell prey to Dasun Shanaka’s bowling. Virat Kohli was then joined by Ajinkya Rahane (2) at the crease, however the latter was dismissed cheaply off Dilruwan Perera’s bowling. Rohit Sharma ended his 13-month wait for first-class Test cricket as he walked in to the crease alongside captain fantastic. The duo presented a minor version of their legendary one-day stands as they complimented each other shot for shot in a 173-run stand for the fifth wicket. After surpassing double-hundred for the fifth time, Virat Kohli fell for (213). Though, the skipper gave Rohit Sharma (102*) all the time he needed to get to his 3rd Test hundred which was important to boost the self-confidence post his return to Test cricket after almost a year and a half.
The declaration came as soon as Rohit Sharma touched the mark, making it only the third time India have had four centurions in one Test innings! India were 610/6 and without wasting any further time, Virat Kohli asked Sri Lanka to survive for nine overs before stumps on day three. However, the weariness of having spent 176.1 overs in the field showed in how Sadeera Samarawickrama (0) rushed at a wide ball and left alone a straight good-length one, eventually helping Ishant Sharma strike his timber.
At the end of Day 3, Sri Lanka stands 21/1 after 9 overs and they’ll be put to test yet again by Indian bowling attack tomorrow.
Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara stepped on the field on Day 2 with India being 11/1. It was a slow but solid start from the two batsmen as they did not throw their wickets away. While they were cautious, they deposited the bad balls to the boundary as well. Vijay, who came in as a replacement for Dhawan, scored his 16th Test fifty with runs coming easily as we approached lunch. Pujara was steady as a rock at the other end as India were 97/1 at Lunch. India dominated the first session with not allowing the visitors to make any inroads in the batting line-up.
The pitch was favouring the batsmen and both, Vijay and Pujara, started playing the expansive shots in the second session. Vijay was the aggressor with stepping down to the spinners and hitting them long. Pujara completed his 17th Test fifty and was not looking in any mood to throw his wicket away. Dinesh Chandimal was rotating his bowlers but to no effect. Both batsmen played very well with Vijay reaching to his 10th Test hundred. Pujara was grinding at the other end and moved in the 70s as well. At tea, India were 185/1 with scoring 88 runs in the session at the loss of no wickets. India were looking comfortable at this point as they had a superb batting line-up to follow.
The frustration continued for the Sri Lankan bowlers as India crossed 200 and eventually took the lead as well. Pujara crossed a milestone as he completed 1000 Test runs in this calendar year. Sri Lanka finally got a breakthrough when Rangana Herath removed Vijay for 128. The stylish opener played well and has definitely increased the selection headaches for the team management.
Virat Kohli arrived after Vijay’s dismissal and the Indian captain was looking in sublime touch. He was timing the ball perfectly and he helped the run rate to improve as well. Soon Pujara celebrated his 14th Test hundred with the lead going over 50. The last hour’s story wasn’t different as well with Sri Lanka desperately trying to break the partnership but it wasn’t happening. Dilruwan Perera had a bad day at the office as he was smashed all around the park. In the dying moments of the day, skipper Kohli completed his 15th Test fifty. At stumps, India were 312/2, with a lead of 107 runs. Pujara (121*) and Kohli (54*) are still at the crease as they would look to make these starts, big ones.
After a dramatic draw in the first Test, India and Sri Lanka travelled to Nagpur for the second Test. The visitors won the toss on a sunny day and had no hesitation to bat first. While they were unchanged, India made three changes of their own. Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar were unavailable due to personal reasons and were replaced by Murali Vijay and Rohit Sharma respectively. While Mohammed Shami, who had a slight niggle as he made way for Ishant Sharma.
Sri Lanka had a confident start to their innings but lost Sadeera Samarawickrama (13) early. The comeback man Ishant Sharma, was more than delighted to get his wicket. Lahiru Thirimanne joined Dimuth Karunaratne and the two left-handers made sure the visitors don’t lose any more wickets. The Indian bowlers were bowling a superb line as the run rate kept on decreasing. Indian fielders were excellent in the field and complemented the bowlers perfectly. Ashwin picked up his first wicket of the series when Thirimanne (9) failed to connect his slog sweep and the ball crashed his stumps. Sri Lanka went into lunch on Day 1 for 47/2.
Angelo Mathews looked good in the beginning but could not carry on the good work. He was given out LBW on 10 as the scoreboard read 60/3. Out came captain, Dinesh Chandimal, and he along with Karunaratne built their innings at a brisk pace. While Chandimal completed 3000 Test runs, Karunaratne was happy to play the waiting game. They completed their 50-run partnership as Karunaratne reached to his 14th Test fifty. But the opener lost his concentration & was adjudged LBW off Ishant’s bowling. Sri Lanka had another good partnership as Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella stayed together in the middle. At tea, they were 151/4.
The last session started on the perfect note for India. After Chandimal completed his fifty, Dickwella (24), lost his focus and handed a skier to Ishant off Jadeja. Half of the Sri Lankan side was back in the hut with just 160 on the board. The Indian spinners were on top in this innings. Both, Ashwin and Jadeja had found the perfect length and the pitch was doing the rest. Dasun Shanaka (2) and Dilruwan Perera (15) departed soon while Chandimal (57), trying to reverse sweep, had to return to the pavilion. Sri Lanka were languishing at 184/8 with Rangana Herath and Suranga Lakmal at the crease. Herath (4) and Lakmal (17) added some vital runs before the innings ended on 205.
With 8 overs remaining in the day, KL Rahul and Murali Vijay came in to bat. Rahul dispatched the first ball to the boundary with a lovely drive to set the tone. But Rahul, while playing for a delivery which was way outside, dragged the ball onto his stumps. Vijay (2*) and Cheteshwar Pujara (2*) made sure to see the day off as the hosts ended on 11/1, 194 runs behind.