Jadeja breaks SL resistance as India seals series

The left-arm spinner took a five-wicket haul to catalyse Sri Lanka’s downfall in the second innings.

Ravindra Jadeja (front, holding the ball) was the Man of the Match for his all-round efforts in the Test.   -  AP

India’s triumph was inevitable. The only lingering question was about how long Sri Lanka could delay Virat Kohli’s men their moment under the sun? Through a fourth day in which the host resisted, an effort based on aggression rather than obduracy, India made precise incisions to seal the second Test, with an innings and 53-run win.

Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The victory at the Sinhalese Sports Club here on Sunday helped India gain an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. In the opposite corner, Dinesh Chandimal’s men will take heart from their second innings and the spin-negating sweeps that they indulged right from the top to the tail. After a day’s rest, the squads will head to Pallekele for the third and final Test from August 12.

Read: Jadeja suspended for Pallekele Test

Resuming at 209 for two, and trailing by 230 runs, Sri Lanka was focussed on staying at the crease besides seeking fleeting joy in Dimuth Karunaratne’s sixth Test ton. The opener found his individual glory but was fated to suffer his team’s loss.

Karunaratne scored runs all around the ground

 

End of dogged fight

Six minutes before tea, Sri Lanka’s second innings wound up at 386. And as Nuwan Pradeep’s tame shot sailed high before commencing its descent, the Indian fielders were convinced that the final nail had been hammered. Some exulted with raised hands, others moved towards the pitch, seeking stump-souvenirs and Shikhar Dhawan held the catch, slapped his thigh and laughed. It may have seemed easy in the end but it was anything but that. Sri Lanka, after a debilitating first innings, fought the good fight in its second and India had to bank on perseverance.

Dimuth Karunaratne scored his sixth Test century.

 

In the morning, Karunaratne progressed through his nineties with a dour bat and night-watchman Malinda Pushpakumara did what members of his tribe often do, irritate the rivals. He edged a four through slips while Karunaratne enjoyed his luck on 95, with K. L. Rahul dropping him at short-leg and Ravindra Jadeja’s face reflected despair. The left-arm spinner, who was adjudged ‘Man of the Match’, eventually got a five-for that hurt Sri Lanka, an apt reward for his hard work.

Karunaratne on-drove Mohammed Shami for four and reached his hundred (141, 307b, 16x4), but Pushpakumara manufactured his dismissal, attempting a reverse sweep against R. Ashwin. But it was also a part of the larger narrative in which the Sri Lankan batsmen found an ally in the sweep shot despite the inherent dangers that shadow the stroke. Pushpakumara’s 40-run third-wicket partnership with Karunaratne was part of a series of minor building blocks that Sri Lanka attempted in its bid to deny India. Next-man, captain Chandimal hardly lasted, poking at Jadeja for Ajinkya Rahane to take a regulation catch at slip.

Post-lunch turnaround

Angelo Mathews continued the way he batted in his previous stints - free-flowing feet and the bat exhibiting optimism. Twice he lofted Jadeja and the second soared for six. Kohli took the new ball after 80 overs but there was no respite as Karunaratne drove Shami with the infinite grace that southpaws seem to possess. At lunch, Sri Lanka was on 302 for four, still gaping at a distant peak while India revised its plans to scuttle the host’s tail.

After the break, Kohli stepped in with a 6-3 field, keeping three men on the off-side within Karunaratne’s gaze. Hardik Pandya turned his arm over, a blustery presence before Jadeja dismissed the home team’s second centurion. The delivery darted up and grazed Karunaratne’s handle. Rahane held on and a 69-run fifth-wicket partnership concluded. The variable bounce flummoxed Mathews too and he perished on the cut.

 

Sri Lanka’s lower-order was not finished yet. Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva and Rangana Herath, intent on going down with their collective guns blazing, unleashed sweeps on either side. The flame had to die, though, and it did when Pradeep, struggling with a hamstring injury, tried to loft Ashwin. That singular moment came after 234 minutes and 56.5 overs on the penultimate day. For India, it was worth the wait.