Spinners apply finishing touches as India goes 1-0 up

R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja took six wickets between them as Sri Lanka was bowled out for 245 for a 304-run defeat at Galle.

The victory was India’s 17th under Virat Kohli.   -  AP

The previous occasion India played a Test at the Galle International Stadium in 2015, defeat’s stigma shadowed it. Cut to another first Test of a three-match series, Virat Kohli’s men made amends in rousing fashion, defeating Sri Lanka by 304 runs here on Saturday.

Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Just like tourists, who leave Galle with fond memories and innumerable Facebook likes, the Indians will head to Colombo, a happy unit, keen to extend the good run in the second Test commencing there on August 3.

On the fourth day, India declared its second innings at 240 for three with Kohli’s unbeaten 103 (136b, 5x4, 1x6) being the highlight. Set 550 to chase, the host was bowled out for 245 in its second innings. Dimuth Karunaratne (97, 209b, 9x4) delayed the inevitable through a 101-run fifth-wicket partnership with Niroshan Dickwella (67), but an Indian triumph was set in stone.

Faced with either mounting an incredible pursuit or attempting an improbable draw, Sri Lanka preferred to live by the sword and face the consequences. Its openers Karunaratne and Upul Tharanga took no time in stealing fours off Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami respectively. Kohli, at first slip, dropped Tharanga on 10 off Shami but with the seamer immediately castling the opener, India caused the first breach.

Free-flowing Karunaratne

Southpaw Karunaratne, however, was batting on a different plane. There was a classical touch to the straight drive off Umesh and the unconventional was in vogue as Karunaratne reverse-swept Ravindra Jadeja. He also watched Danushka Gunathilaka succumb to Umesh, but with Kusal Mendis for company, helped Sri Lanka move to 85 for two at lunch. The morning session, including both India’s and Sri Lanka’s stints, featured 29.3 overs and 136 runs for the loss of two wickets, and it proved that the pitch had no devils.

Dimuth Karunaratne's 97 delayed the inevitable. Photo: AP

 

In the afternoon, Karunaratne maintained his tempo, cutting R. Ashwin besides brooding over departing partners. Mendis was out caught behind to Jadeja as India wrenched a successful review and Angelo Mathews gave the charge to the left-arm spinner and popped an edge towards backward-point.

Sri Lanka then revealed its lone pocket of resistance, as Karunaratne and Dickwella joined hands. Both capitalised when Ashwin and Jadeja erred in their lengths. Dickwella enjoyed his luck, being dropped on 41 by a diving Ajinkya Rahane at second slip with Hardik Pandya the aggrieved bowler. Just before tea, Dickwella slog swept Ashwin and when it was time for the refreshing brew and cookies, Sri Lanka was 192 for four.

 

Post-tea, the sweep turned fatal for Dickwella and Karunaratne. With Ashwin coming around the wicket and bowling a touch wide outside the off-stump, Dickwella attempted to sweep against the turn and feathered a snick. More heart-break was in store for the Sri Lankan fans when Karunaratne, in trying to sweep Ashwin, dragged the ball onto his stumps. With the injured duo of skipper Rangana Herath and Asela Gunaratne, not available to bat, the Sri Lankan innings concluded in a rush, the last two wickets lasting a mere 15 deliveries.

Level with stalwarts

In the morning, resuming at 189 for three, India batted for 29 minutes, added 51 runs in 6.3 overs and declared. Attention was centred around Kohli as he registered his 17th Test ton and drew level with middle-order stalwarts Dilip Vengsarkar and V.V.S. Laxman.

 

Kohli and Rahane were focussed on quick runs. Rahane streaked a four off Nuwan Pradeep as a defensive Sri Lanka did not have a slip cordon. Kohli then deposited a Dilruwan Perera delivery over the mid-wicket fence. Soon a single off Perera helped Kohli reach his century and after six earlier stints in Tests clocked 0, 13, 12, 15, 6 and 3, the runs here will hold him in good stead.

Once India’s cumulative lead swelled to 549, the declaration was announced at 10.14 a.m., leaving Sri Lanka the arduous task of surviving the day’s remaining 89 overs. The host lasted 76.5 overs.