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Virat Kohli says Galle Test win vs Sri Lanka an example of Indian bowlers’ skills

Virat Kohli has hailed Ravichandran Ashwin and co. who bowled exceptionally well on a flat Galle track to guide the Indian cricket team to an inspiring 304-run win over Sri Lanka on Saturday.

india-vs-sri-lanka-2017 Updated: Jul 29, 2017 18:34 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Virat Kohli-led India thrashed Sri Lanka by 304 runs in Galle Test to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.
Virat Kohli-led India thrashed Sri Lanka by 304 runs in Galle Test to go 1-0 up in the three-match series. (AFP)

Virat Kohli, India captain, on Saturday praised his bowlers for delivering a 304-run victory over Sri Lanka in the first Test at Galle, on a wicket that remained flat and required the bowlers to ‘work hard’. (India vs Sri Lanka Day 4 Highlights)

India amassed 600 and 240 for three declared in their two outings, making most of the favourable batting conditions with Shikhar Dhawan (190), Cheteshwar Pujara (153) and Kohli (103 not out) getting centuries to propel the visiting side to a commanding position. (India vs Sri Lanka Day 4 Scorecard)

India registered their fourth biggest win ever in Test cricket in terms of runs, by winning the Galle Test by as many as 304 runs. Chasing an improbable target of 550 to win, Sri Lanka fought hard throughout the day but could not stop India from registering a win with a day to spare.

Rangana Herath and Asela Gunaratne did not bat for the hosts in the second innings, which meant the game was over right after Lahiru Kumar was dismissed by Ravindra Jadeja. The left-arm spinner returned with the figures of 3 for 71 whereas Ravichandran Ashwin claimed 3 for 65. The Indian bowlers did a fine job on what Kohli described was a tough wicket.

(Read | India crush Sri Lanka by record 304 runs in Galle Test, take 1-0 series lead)

“The surface did not offer much (and) that is why the win is more special, because the bowlers had to work hard, bowl in right areas, create opportunities where there was not much happening and that is an example of the skill that they possess and what they can execute on the wickets that do not offer much,” Kohli said after the match.

He added, “Persistent pressure for longer periods always pays off and that is something that we believe in and this wicket required more hard work than the last wicket we played at Galle, there was much more for the bowlers on that one but this time around I think it was pretty much good for batting as well.”

(Read | Sri Lanka to tour India in November, confusion surrounds South Africa series)

Kohli, when asked about the previous Test at Galle in 2015 which India lost after dominating for most of the game, said their performance was clinical this time around.

“That was a Test we should have won. It was really denting as far as our confidence is concerned but this time around I think it was a very clinical performance as I said in the press conference earlier. We are a more experienced side from then on. Two years down the line we are playing more consistent cricket so that is what is showing on the field. Really happy with the way things went in this particular game, I think all bases were covered nicely and the guys stood up when it was needed the most,” he said.

(Read | Virat Kohli completes 1,000 runs as India cricket team captain in overseas Tests)

Dhawan cracked a blistering 190 whereas Abhinav Mukund scored a crucial 81 in the second innings. Interestingly, neither Dhawan nor Mukund are India’s first-choice openers anymore, and they were filling in for the injured duo of Murali Vijay and KL Rahul.

While Vijay has missed this entire tour, Rahul fell ill after arriving in Sri Lanka and missed the first Test. However, Rahul is now fit and expected to join the team for the second Test at Colombo.

(Read | India vs Sri Lanka: KL Rahul recovers from fever, trains with Indian team in Galle)

When asked whether the options of opening batsmen are far too many for him, Kohli said, “Yeah, and one regular opener (Murali Vijay) who is not fit. It’s a massive headache but I guess it is a good one, you know. Eventually the guys understand that only two can take the field at most and on tours only three openers make the squad.”

“I think the one who is left out in both scenarios understands how the dynamics of the team works. It’s good to have guys scoring rather than guys who do not score many runs consistently,” he added.

Kohli scored his 17th Test century and roared back to form, after having a poor series against Australia at home and being dismissed for a mere three in the first innings of the Galle Test.

The right-hander said that it was important for him and Mukund to accelerate when they got together in the second innings. “It was a situation where we had to capitalise, not waste too many deliveries and second innings is something that we have been trying to work on as far as our cricket is concerned. It felt nice that it came off nicely and I thought Abhinav (Mukund) batted really well as well, he deserved a hundred but just to get another hundred in Test cricket is always special,” Kohli added.

On what turned out to be the final day of the Test, for Sri Lanka, opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne waged a lone battle from the top order, but he fell three runs short of what would have been a gritty century against a dangerous Indian bowling attack at Galle. Karunaratne scored 97 off 208 balls before falling to Ashwin.

Kusal Mendis chipped in with 36 runs whereas Niroshan Dickwella scored 67, but their efforts were not enough for Sri Lanka to prevent their heaviest defeat in Test cricket in terms of runs.

First Published: Jul 29, 2017 17:39 IST

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