When India’s night watchman Ishant Sharma was dismissed as the first wicket of the fourth day at Galle, little did anyone expect that our famed Indian batting line-up will fail to chase a seemingly easy target of 176. What began as an easy task became an incredibly tough endeavour, and India eventually lost the first Sri Lanka vs India test match by 63 runs.
Sri Lanka vs India – A commendable comeback by the hosts
The road to victory was not smooth for Sri Lanka at all, and aided by a bit of luck the Sri lankan players went on to make their own fortunes in an exciting Test Match. Thanks to exceptional performances by Dinesh Chandimal (162*) and Rangana Herath (21-6-48-7), the hosts transformed a match almost lost to a victory earned by sheer excellence. In the post match presentation ceremony, skipper Angelo Mathews said,
“We were on the backfoot for three days, and yet we came to the pitch on a positive note this morning. Dinesh single-handedly took us to a decent total, the bowlers made a great effort and eventually we came back really strong.”
Man of the Match, Chandimal added,
“It was not an easy wicket to bat on, and we had to try sweeps and reverse sweeps to tackle their three spinners.”
While India needed merely one or two good partnerships, the duo of Rangana Herath and Kaushal made sure that the opponents were constantly under pressure on both ends.
The collapsing middle-order
After Ishant Sharma’s wicket fell, India had to make 146 runs with eight wickets still in hand. It would have appeared to be a cakewalk. The duo of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma were at the crease. Rangana Herath, who had sent Ishant and Lokesh Rahul back, came to attack again and exposed the limited footwork of Rohit Sharma when he had the Indian number 3 missing a ball that spun across his bat to take the off sump.
This was only one of the seven dismissals that Rangana Herath was responsible for, but would have set the alarm bells ringing. Herath along with Tharindu Kaushal, undertook the job of destroying India’s middle-order as well as their hopes of cruising smoothly to a victory.
With the exception of Ajinkya Rahane (36) Shikhar and Dhawan (28), no other top order batsman could touch double figures. Captain Virat Kohli (3) and Wriddhiman Saha (2) retreated to pavilion without making any significant contributions, and the line-up fell like a house of cards.
Herath’s spell versus Rahane’s struggle
Rahane, who achieved the feat of grabbing the most number of catches in a Test match yesterday, was the last man standing in the nightmare that the Indian innings became. He kept on his efforts to take the strike as often as he could and tried to inch the Indian innings ahead run by run.
What turned the tables was Herath’s game-changing spell of 7/48, his second best in Tests after 9/127 in Colombo against Pakistan last year. He was responsible for dismissing Saha, Harbhajan Singh and Ravichandran Ashwin in the lower order. He also terminated any chance of India’s comeback by getting Rahane, whose 9th wicket partnership of 21 runs with Amit Mishra (15) was delaying Sri Lanka’s victory march.
Once Herath got Rahane and reduced India to 102/9, it was only a matter of time with Dimuth Karunaratne catching Mishra off a Kaushal delivery to end the match.
How will India bounce back?
In the three-match Test series, Sri Lanka now has a 1-0 lead. The second match of this Sri Lanka vs India test series will begin on 20th August in Colombo and India will be under pressure to recover from this loss and tackle Sri Lanka in a more composed manner. Captain Kohli remarked,
“We have no one or nothing to blame except ourselves. Herath is a world class bowler. We failed to capitalize on the first few wickets. The pitch behaved strangely and the ball started to spin and played nicely in our 1st innings. We thought that the wicket would get difficult but Sri Lanka’s batting in the 2nd innings kept them in the game.”
India boasts of some of the biggest names in international cricket at least in the limited overs format and it is time for them to come to the Test party now ! Sri Lanka is high on morale and will try to keep India under pressure. It is Battle on , but unfortunately the hosts now hold the upper hand
Sri Lanka 1st innings: 183
India 1st innings: 375
Sri Lanka 2nd innings: 367 (D. Chandimal 162*, J. Mubarak 49, R. Ashwin 4/114, A. Mishra 3/61)
India 2nd innings: 112 (A. Rahane 36, S. Dhawan 28, R. Herath 7/48, T. Kaushal 3/47)