IND vs SL: Virat Kohli’s five-bowler plan got India 20 wickets, and a humiliating loss


August 15, 2015

Brief Scorecard: Sri Lanka 183 (Mathews 64, Chandimal 59, Ashwin 6-46) and 367 (Chandimal 162, Mubarak 49, Thirimanne 44, Ashwin 4-114) beat India 375 (Dhawan 134, Kohli 103, Saha 60, Kaushal 5-40) and 112 (Herath 7-48, Kaushal 3-47) by 63 runs

August 15, 2015

Brief Scorecard: Sri Lanka 183 (Mathews 64, Chandimal 59, Ashwin 6-46) and 367 (Chandimal 162, Mubarak 49, Thirimanne 44, Ashwin 4-114) beat India 375 (Dhawan 134, Kohli 103, Saha 60, Kaushal 5-40) and 112 (Herath 7-48, Kaushal 3-47) by 63 runs

Kumar Sangakkara is carried on a lap of honour, Sri Lanka v India, 1st Test, Galle, 4th day, August 15, 2015

GALLE, SRI LANKA – After being kept in anticipation of a famous victory at Galle in a Test match where the former No. 1 ranked side dominated for 4 days, India capitulated from 23 for 1 to 112 all out, giving the Sri Lankans an unexpected win and a 1-0 lead in the 3-match series.

While this is not the first time that an Indian side has collapsed like a pack of cards with little resistance coming from any of the batsmen, skipper Virat Kohli's plan of playing five bowlers might just need a rethink as the bulk of wickets came from just one bowler, R Ashwin.

With a batsman short and Wriddhiman Saha coming at No. 6, India exposed the tail in front of Rangana Herath's deadly venom. Even with a target of 176, the visitors could do little as the Indian batsmen failed to play spin on a turning track.

Even after the humiliating show, Kohli defended his decision of playing five bowlers and went on to add, "Well the idea is basically not let the batsmen get used to a particular bowler's rhythm. The idea is to basically keep guys fresh so that it's possible for them to come out and bowl a four-five over spell and bowl attacking lines again. So the idea of having that extra bowler, who is fresh and ready, is to come and bowl attacking lines. As I said, the idea is to take 20 wickets and the bowlers did a very good job to take 20 wickets and get us right into the game."

There is not an iota of doubt that the bowlers did their job but the other side of the argument is whether or not the lower-order is able to take the pressure and rise up to the occasion when it matters, and as of now their report card is inked with red marks on every possible step.

But the Indian skipper had a different version of the story as he added further by saying, "The situation could have been very different but still they took those 20 wickets. We were set a target of 170-odd, so we had an opportunity to win the game. It wasn't like we were given an opportunity by Sri Lanka to chase down a massive total that they set and I think it was a case of us being on top and forcing them to play the way they did in the second innings. So having that extra bowler who could come and attack again is an added advantage."

If this wasn't enough to give the Indian captain sleepless nights, the performance of Harbhajan Singh would surely keep him awake leading up to the second Test match.

One of the highest wicket-takers for India, Harbhajan is far from the bowler he was. The fizz and the turn has long parted ways with the offspinner.

Bhajji's graph has gone from bad to worse in the last couple of years with the senior pro losing out on a place to R Ashwin who looked like picking up a wicket on every ball during the Test match, a remarkable contrast to when the man from Jalandhar was struggling to exploit the conditions that were more than spin-friendly.

But the captain as usual showed a lot of faith on Harbhajan who according to him, looked good in patches in the first and second innings.

"He bowled well in a couple of spells. I think in the second innings one spell he bowled was nice. In the first innings also. He was getting good rhythm but after that good rhythm in the second innings, Chandimal started attacking every bowler. I think that threw him and 2-3 other bowlers off in that particular session. But apart from that, I think he was pretty good with the ball," said Kohli about the 35-year-old spinner.

The concept of playing three spinners has always been a area of debate as invariably one of the them is hardly used or is underbowled. Harbhajan bowled only six overs and went wicketless in the first innings but picked up a wicket in the second although he was a touch expensive.

Ashwin did bulk of the bowling in both the innings, and rightly so, as he was the pick of the bowlers. With the second Test just round the corner, starting from August 20 in Colombo, Kohli would do good just to solve the balance conundrum of the side.

Playing five is a great idea when the top six batsmen come to the party or else, more often than not, it will expose the tail even when the bowlers have done a fair job.

It is true that bowlers win you Test matches by picking up 20 wickets but the batters need to cash in on their performances also and as long it is not a combination of both, India will struggle to win Test matches, a format they are not doing too great.

Courtesy: IBN