IND vs SL: Sri Lanka rattled by Ashwin, Jadeja

In a period of over five hours, the visitor folded up for a modest total of 205. India’s spin duo R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja took seven wickets between them.

R. Ashwin (second from left) took four wickets to break the back of Sri Lanka’s batting.   -  AP

The fall of Dinesh Chandimal hastened Sri Lanka’s capitulation on an action-packed but mediocre opening day of the second Test at the VCA Stadium where about two thousand spectators thronged to see the Indian stars in action.

In a period of over five hours, the visitor folded up for a modest total of 205. It was caused by a certain degree of hostility by Ishant Sharma and the dexterity and ability of R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to take the pitch out of equation - they constricted the rival batsmen and compelled them to make mistakes.

Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The spinners had only played the filler role in the first Test in Kolkata where the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami swung the ball around and picked up wickets. But they captured a bagful here. Fast bowler Ishant also bowled straight and with a lot of energy and purpose in four bursts to make a big impact accounting for the openers.

Thorn in the flesh

Amid the floundering Sri Lankan batting, Chandimal displayed good batting skills and admirable character, thwarting the home team’s designs for a little over an hour and a half. Within minutes of the tea interval, he carved the ball to cover, darted for a single, raised his bat towards dressing room to signal his 14 half-century in 43 Test matches. He also became the 12th Sri Lankan to cross 3000 runs. Coming into the scene of action after Jadeja won a review for leg before against the dangerous-looking Angelo Mathews, Chandimal, not known to take a stoical stance in a career that’s about to complete six years, took control with a defensive approach, although he got enough bat earlier on the ball to hit a straight six off Ashwin.

 

Chandimal clearly looked the part to compete against the home team’s seam and spin attack in the pursuit of nullifying the opponent’s decision to bat upon winning the toss. But in a sudden show of indiscretion, he decided go for a reverse sweep against the persisting Ashwin and paid a heavy price. Once he covered the stumps while attempting the unconventional shot, and umpire Joel Wilson did not respond, Virat Kohli, prompted by Ashwin, gestured for the review and got the major stumbling block removed to take command of the proceedings.

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On a surface that was supposed to show bias to the fast bowlers in the first two days, Chandimal chose three seamers in Suranga Lakmal, Dasun Shanaka and Lahiru Gamage and yet opted to bat. The home team took the field with four bowlers (Sharma and Umesh Yadav being the seamers), preferring to bring batsman Rohit Sharma back into Tests after a gap of more than a year. His inclusion was at the expense of Mohammed Shami who was ruled out because he and the team did not want to aggravate a hip- related niggle. Having made the choice of Ishant as a replacement for Kumar, the home team may have felt Rohit must get a hit in the middle before next year’s away series in South Africa.

Spinners take control

Whatever may have been the logic, the surprise in store was Ashwin and Jadeja sending down four balls short of 50 overs to harry the Sri Lankan batsmen with a line-and-length accuracy and constant changing of angles, which was demonstrated well when Ashwin bowled the round the wicket to choke the supply of runs to Chandimal.

Dinesh Chandimal played a defiant knock. Photo: Vivek Bendre

 

India got a good start, with Sadeera Samarawickrama falling victim with his propensity to go after the bowling from around the off stump. Lahiru Thirimanne blocked for nearly 90 minutes before becoming Ashwin’s first scalp. Left-hander Dimuth Karunaratne, who completed 1000 runs this year, held on for over three and half hours to make a half-century that had many attractive shots, but overall the visitor came a cropper.

Opener K. L.Rahul began the Indian innings in the evening with a firm off-drive off Lakmal to the fence, but inside-edged Gamage on to his stumps, 14 balls later. Sri Lanka’s head coach Nic Pothas said India took six wickets of straight balls and his team has plans for Saturday when the Indians resume their innings.