The island nation has been going through a tough time for the past several months as far as cricket is concerned.
Sri Lanka were eliminated from the group league of the ICC Champion’s Trophy and later get defeated in an ODI series by the ostensible ‘minnow’ Zimbabwe, right in their own demesne. Even in the only test match they had to make a Herculean effort in the fourth innings to chase down a huge total when they eked out a test match victory against the same team.
With India leading the ICC ranking table by a long way, not many people would have foreseen a test match win for Sri Lanka in the first test of this bilateral series, even though it was arranged in their lair, Galle.
The lesions that were inflicted in the previous India vs Sri Lanka test match at this very ground two years ago (India succumbed against Rangana Herath chasing 170 odd runs) must not have been completely healed till now as Virat Kohli opted to bat first after winning the toss, thereby eliminating the possibility to bat in the fourth innings.
The match was almost in India’s pocket in the very first day after India put on 399 losing just 3 wickets – courtesy a flamboyant Dhawan and an imperturbable Pujara. After that, it was just a matter of time. If we vivisect this match furthermore, we would find that this colossal victory of 304 runs wasn’t untoward at all. First of all, Sri Lanka dearly missed Dinesh Chandimal in the middle order who was instrumental in their victory two years ago. Secondly, all of the Indian batsmen are currently in an impeccable touch and with an inexperienced bowling side on a batting pitch, Sri Lanka were meant to be eviscerated.
All of India’s top order batsmen make this golden opportunity count either in the first or in the second innings with three of them managing centuries. As for the bowlers, they have been doing a commendable job for over a year now and they did the same here.
From the Lankans’ perspective, they could use the innings from Dilruwan Perera (92* in the first innings) and Karunaratne (97 in the second innings), who batted phlegmatically until he chopped one on off-break from Ashwin onto his middle stump, as a commiseration prize.
Believe it or not, it is India’s biggest triumph against Sri Lanka among all their 17 victories. But it will be unable to create any fuss among the hoi polloi as it came under rather unceremonious circumstances. Sri Lanka looked even more pusillanimous after D. Gunaratne injured himself in the process of making a futile effort to catch Dhawan in the first innings. Rangana Herath too, injured himself during India’s second innings and did not come out to bat for Sri Lanka in their chase of an insurmountable target (550 runs). All these phenomena ultimately left India to take only 17 wickets in lieu of 20 and they did that quite swimmingly.
We all know that cricket is a game of incertitude and no one can apparently foresee the possible result of a game. But, if Sri Lanka does not make a dramatic turnaround in their next game showing significant amelioration in every department, the result of this series will be presented as a fait accompli even before it actually culminates.
India 600 (Dhawan 190, Pujara 153, Pradeep 6-132) and 240 for 3 dec (Kohli 103*, Abhinav 81) beat Sri Lanka 291 (Perera 92*, Mathews 83, Jadeja 3-67) and 245 (Karunaratne 97, Dickwella 67, Ashwin 3-65, Jadeja 3-71) by 304 runs