India crush Sri Lanka by record 304 runs, take 1-0 lead in three-match seriesUpdated: Jul 29, 2017 17:34 IST
GALLE Staying true to pre-match predictions, favourites India made short work of hosts Sri Lanka in the first Test at Galle on Saturday, taking a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
After the pace bowlers had made early inroads, spinners R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja ran through the middle and lower order to wrap up the game on the fourth evening for a 304-run win at the Galle International Stadium.
In the absence of the injured Asela Gunaratne and Rangana Herath, the stand-in skipper, India needed to take only eight wickets and they wrapped up proceedings in 76.5 overs.
The win was significant for Virat Kohli because it is the first game after renewing his partnership with coach Ravi Shastri.
The platform for India’s win was built by a strong batting show in the first innings led by opener Shikhar Dhawan’s 190 and Cheteshwar Pujara’s 153. In the second innings, Virat Kohli came to the fore, smashing his 17th Test hundred to set Sri Lanka a target of 550.
Given that the highest successful fourth innings chase at the ground was 99, the home team was never in the hunt.
Opener Dimuth Karunaratne waged a lone battle, being the only Sri Lankan batsman to make India sweat for the victory. Batting with tremendous application, the left-handed Karunaratne worked his way to a fine 97, but found little support from the other end.
R Ashwin got him with the only false stroke he played, when he was bowled trying to hit a fuller length delivery to midwicket. The end was swift after that. Ashwin, playing in his 50th Test, picked the last two wickets to finish with three in the second innings, and four scalps in all.
Karunaratne fell three short of what would have been the sixth hundred of his 40-Test career, but would be no less satisfied with his effort. His team had their backs to the wall as they faced a daunting task of chasing 550, but the opening batsman thwarted the Indian attack’s bid to make inroads from both ends. It was not just the runs, he was assured during his stay at the crease.
The only support Karunaratne got was from Niroshan Dickwella, the wicket-keeper batsman helping him put on 101 runs for the fifth wicket.
The worst culprits were former captain Angelo Mathews and promising young batsman Kusal Mendis. Both gifted their wickets to soft dismissals, hampering Sri Lanka’s chances of saving the game.
Facing a mountain of runs piled by India, more was expected by their main batsmen Mathews and Mendis. But, Mendis got out chasing a Ravindra Jadeja delivery for 36, and Mathews threw his wicket away by going for a wild shot off Jadeja. Mendis got the faintest of edges when he chased a turning ball and the umpire negated Jadeja and wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha’s appeal. India went for the DRS in which the UltraEdge picked the snick.
India pacers Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav made early inroads to open the door for their third straight Test win in Sri Lanka. More than the loss of wickets, the application of the home team’s top-order batsmen left a lot to be desired.
Upul Tharanga played loosely, dragging Mohammed Shami’s delivery from outside the off-stump and one-drop batsman Danushka Gunathilaka also gifted his wicket away, flicking a Umesh Yadav delivery straight to square leg fielder Cheteshwar Pujara.
Earlier, India had started the day with a lead of 498. Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane added 51 runs in 6.3 overs to take the total target to 549. Kohli remained unbeaten on 103 (136 balls, five fours, one six), his 10th Test hundred as captain, and 17th overall.
First Published: Jul 29, 2017 17:34 IST