SL v IND: Sri Lanka fight hard but an all-round Indian performance brings down the curtain

Coming on the back of a thumping victory in Galle, the Indian team impressed once again, notching up their eighth successive Test series win in a row. This victory also saw Virat Kohli become the first Indian captain to register two series wins in the island nation.

Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli instructs Ravindra Jadeja during the second Test match against Sri Lanka. Photo Credit: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi / AFP

Luck favoured India once again with the visitors deciding to bat first with openers Shikhar Dhawan and Lokesh Rahul getting them off to a brisk start. After Dhawan’s dismissal, last match’s centurion Cheteshwar Pujara joined Rahul in the middle and the duo took India past 100. Rahul completed his half-century soon enough and joined an elite club.

However, Rahul’s celebration was short lived as a mix up while running between the wickets led to his downfall. Ajinkya Rahane joined Pujara in the middle for a fascinating partnership that sent India marching ahead.

Pujara and Rahane soon reached their respective centuries as India ended the first day on 344/3 with the visitors comprehensively outplaying their opponents.

The Sri Lankan team sniffed a comeback early on the second day as both Pujara (133) and Rahane (132) were dismissed in the first session after a mammoth partnership that comprised two splendid knocks.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha joined the fun as India’s tally crossed 450 with Ashwin completing a well compiled half-century.

Towards the tail end of the innings, Ravindra Jadeja and Saha took center stage and carried India’s score past 550. The wicketkeeper showed why he’s valued a lot by the team by adding 67 crucial runs.

Post Saha’s dismissal, Jadeja upped the ante and with the tail-enders took India’s total to 622; enough for Kohli to declare the innings. The middle order and lower middle order made invaluable contributions as Jadeja remained unbeaten on 70.

Sri Lanka had faced a similar situation in the previous Test, succumbing under the pressure. To make matters worse, the pitch started assisting the spinners. Ashwin got into the act straightaway, sending Upul Tharanga back in his very first over. The off spinner bagged another before the end of Day 2 with only 50 runs on board for the hosts.

Day 3 began well for the visitors as Jadeja spun his web and dismissed the Sri Lankan skipper Dinesh Chandimal for 10. Next over, Umesh Yadav picked up Kusal Mendis’ wicket. The hosts looked in a spot of bother at 64/4. Angelo Mathews and Niroshan Dickwella then took them past 100 and Ashwin struck once again to dismiss the former captain.

India’s spin twins, Ashwin and Jadeja, used the conditions perfectly and kept picking up wickets at regular intervals. They crossed their respective milestones too as Jadeja raced to 150 wickets in Test cricket while Ashwin completed his five-wicket haul.

A comeback looked like a distant dream for the hosts as India enforced the follow-on.

Sri Lanka came out with a different approach in the second innings though. While Tharanga failed once again, Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne showed immense determination and grit against India’s spinners and took the attack to the opposition.

The Indian skipper tried all the tricks in the book but failed to go past the duo’s defence. His team was playing while following on, but that didn’t stop Mendis from playing his shots and registering a fantastic century to keep his team’s hopes alive in the match.

The 191-run stand between Mendis and Karunaratne was eventually broken by Hardik Pandya but the partnership had infused confidence in the hosts. It was still advantage India at stumps on Day 3.

While wickets kept falling from the other end, Karunaratne continued his fightback and took Sri Lanka past 300 while completing a terrific century.

Jadeja ended Karunaratne’s resistance which in turn ended the hopes of a miraculous turnaround for the hosts. His relentless pressure bamboozled the other Sri Lankan batsmen and the wily spinner ended up with a five-fer to his name.

Sri Lanka managed 386 in their second innings and ended up 53 runs short of India’s first innings tally. Nevertheless, the intent shown by the hosts after being down and out in the first innings was commendable.

The No. 1 Test team were tested a bit in the second innings but they showed patience and came out on top to bring up a historic series win over the hosts.

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