The Sunday Leader

Clinical India Romp To Emphatic Win

The writing was very much on the wall before the start of play on the fourth day and a quality knock from Sri Lanka opener Dimuth Karunaratne only delayed the inevitable as Virat Kohli and boys thrashed Sri Lanka by 304 runs in the first Test at the Galle International Stadium with a day to spare in the game. The Indians outplayed the hosts in all the departments of the game at Galle to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Chasing 550 to win was always going to be impossible and it was more about the Lankans playing out time and stretching the game into the fifth day. But R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja ensured that the resistance was finally broken in the 77th over by Jadeja as he sent back Lahiru Kumara for a duck. While Ashwin finished with 3/65, Jadeja had figures of 3/71.

Injuries to Asela Gunaratne — first session of the opening day — and skipper Herath — while fielding on Friday — meant that the visitors needed to pick just 8 wickets in the second essay to end the game and they did that with aplomb after Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav used the new ball to great effect.

Shami and Umesh started off impressively, sending back Upul Tharanga (10) and Danushka Gunathilaka (2) respectively within the first 10 overs and post that, it was always about playing against time for the Lankan batsmen. Kusal Mendis did try and provide some support to Karunaratne as the two put on 79 for the third wicket. But luck ran out for Mendis when DRS came to India’s rescue. Jadeja got the faintest of edges off Mendis’ (36) bat and while the umpire said it was not out, Saha and Jadeja convinced Kohli to go for a review and Mendis had to walk back.

With the score reading 108/3, Angelo Mathews joined Karunaratne in the middle and it was imperative for the former Lanka skipper to show patience and character. But unfortunately for the Lankans, that didn’t happen and Mathews had a brain freeze and attempted a wild hoick, only to edge Jadeja to Hardik Pandya at backward point for 2. With the senior-most batsman back in the hut, Lanka were looking down the barrel.

However, Niroshan Dickwella was made of sterner stuff and refused to throw it away deciding to grind it out. Dickwella batted watchfully but unfurled a few unorthodox strokes as well and along with Karunaratne, the two put on 101 runs for the 5th wicket as they frustrated the Indian bowlers. But once again, Ashwin rose to the challenge and coming back to bowl after the tea break, he got a faint edge off Dickwella’s (67) bat for Saha to complete another catch.

With the score reading 217/5, Dilruwan Perera joined Karunaratne and while Perera had hit an unbeaten 92 in the first innings, it was impossible to think that he would play another such knock with the Indian spinner sniffing victory and going for the kill.

Unfortunately, it was Karunaratne (97) was the first person to crack under pressure as Ashwin cleaned him up. Trying to sweep Ashwin, the opener only succeeded in dragging the ball onto his stumps. And once Karunaratne had been dismissed, it was all a matter of time before India sealed the deal.

Earlier, India started off on expected lines with Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane looking to bat out just 30 minutes in the morning session. They looked to stay positive from the word go and managed to score 51 runs from the 6.3 overs with Kohli completing his 17th Test hundred and Rahane too getting some quality batting practice.

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