Two days of run-fest were followed by a wicket-fest on day three, thanks to another special performance from Ravindra Jadeja, as Sri Lanka fell to an innings-and-222-run defeat at the PCA stadium here. Spinners did their job on a pitch with uneven bounce and turn, and fast bowlers bowled cleverly to make important breakthroughs to bring about an abject capitulation.
Jadeja (5 for 41, 4 for 46) cleaned up the tail in the first innings and picked the big wickets of Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva in the second to help his team wrap it up with more than 45 minutes to go before stumps.
Jadeja became only the third Indian player to score more than 150 runs and take more than five wickets in a single Test. The others to have achieved the feat are Vinoo Mankad and Polly Umrigar.
That Sri Lanka would disintegrate so spectacularly wasn’t apparent in the morning, Pathum Nissanka (61 n.o., 133b, 11x4) and Charith Asalanka compiling runs cautiously yet comfortably for a 58-run partnership for the fifth wicket in the first innings. Nissanka was one of only two batters to score a half-century across both of Sri Lanka’s innings – it was made to follow on after handing India a lead of 400 – as he cut, swept and flicked spinners for the odd boundary in a compact little innings.
R. Ashwin (2 for 49, 4 for 47), ever the trier, foxed Asalanka with a leg-spinner pitching outside the off-stump and coming in, but couldn’t obtain his wicket. The batter is known for his breathtaking assaults in limited-overs cricket and he grew confident enough to play his strokes, but India – as it would do throughout the day – just found a way to break the odd phases of resistance before they became ominous. Just after a nice punch off the back-foot off Jasprit Bumrah to collect a boundary through extra cover, Asalanka fell to the bowler’s off-cutter, playing inside the line and being struck on the thigh to be dismissed leg before wicket.
The floodgates opened, thereafter. Jadeja got two out in an over soon after, Dickwella paying the price for a badly-executed sweep shot, and Suranga Lakmal stepping out and spooning the ball to the fielder at mid-off. After Mohammed Shami removed Lasith Embuldeniya with a nasty short ball – Embuldeniya could only fend the ball away from his body and was caught out – Jadeja prised out two more in an over once again, Vishwa Fernando caught in the slips, and Lahiru Kumara dismissed bowled as he played inside the line of a straight delivery, perhaps expecting turn.
Jadeja & Co. chipped away at Sri Lanka in the second innings, too, right from the get go. The fields were more attacking: there were at least three close-in fielders for both Jadeja and Ashwin, and two slips for the fast bowlers. In addition, Rohit opted for an unorthodox field for both Bumrah and Shami, as in the first innings; two midwicket fielders – a yard apart – were kept, perhaps to make batters hesitate more to play the productive flick shot.
Ashwin started the rot in the third over, drawing Lahiru Thirimanne forward and imparting just enough spin on the ball to have it kiss the bat’s edge and travel to the slip fielder. Soon after, he removed Nissanka with another expert delivery – Nissanka was caught behind trying to defend of the back-foot.
Dimuth Karunaratne (27, 46b, 6x4) and Angelo Mathews (28, 75b, 2x4, 1x6), the premier batters, stuck together for nine overs, negotiating spin carefully. Jadeja was brought on to try and unsettle Mathews – Mathews has been dismissed six times in his career by the left-arm spinner – but he refused to buckle. Karunaratne was eventually undone by a swinging delivery from Shami, playing for the angle but nicking the ball behind, the ball straightening enough to take the edge. But Mathews carried on calmly.
He found an equally doughty partner in Dhananjaya (30, 58b, 5x4), and the both resisted everything thrown at them for a considerable period. Mathews even indulged in some lusty hitting before tea – including a six off Ashwin down the ground. But Jadeja got him eventually as he played back to defend a short delivery but couldn’t put bat to ball; he was lbw.
By then Jadeja had got rid of Dhananjaya too – caught at cover – and the end was nigh. Niroshan Dickwella (51 n.o., 81b, 9x4) stuck around for a while, taking a liking to Shami, even as the other batters fell one by one around him. Jadeja finished with nine wickets, completing his finest performance with both bat and ball for India’s fifth-biggest win in Test matches.
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