IND vs SL: 2nd Test Match – Day 4: Jadeja’s five seals series for India

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August 6, 2017

Brief Scorecard: India 622 for 9 dec (Pujara 133, Rahane 132, Jadeja 70, Saha 67, Rahul 57, Ashwin 54, Herath 4-154) beat Sri Lanka 183 (Dickwella 51, Ashwin 5-69) and 386 (f/o) (Karunaratne 142, Mendis 110, Jadeja 5-152) by an innings and 53 runs

August 6, 2017

Brief Scorecard: India 622 for 9 dec (Pujara 133, Rahane 132, Jadeja 70, Saha 67, Rahul 57, Ashwin 54, Herath 4-154) beat Sri Lanka 183 (Dickwella 51, Ashwin 5-69) and 386 (f/o) (Karunaratne 142, Mendis 110, Jadeja 5-152) by an innings and 53 runs

Ravindra Jadeja elated after India thrash Sri Lanka in Colombo Test

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA: The resistance was staunch, but the deficit massive. The resolve was unshakeable, but the odds almost insurmountable.

In time to come, Dimuth Karunaratne will look back on his sixth Test century as one of his finest knocks, but for now, that will be scant consolation. The Sri Lankan opener defied the world’s top two bowlers and a somewhat tricky surface with the broadest of blades and the stoutest of hearts for upwards of six and a quarter hours, but in the end, it counted for little so far as the outcome of the second Test was concerned.

India played with the nous and the patience of the world’s No. 1 Test team, not allowing frustration to get the better of them when the scalps they were so desperately seeking to knot up the Test and series win weren’t forthcoming at the SSC ground on a muggy, overcast Sunday (August 6). And as soon as the persevering Ravindra Jadeja, No. 1 on the Test bowling charts ahead of R Ashwin, produced a beast to cruelly cut short Karunaratne’s admirable essay, they were all over Sri Lanka like a bad rash.

Jadeja himself completed the demolition job he had started some 18 minutes after lunch, recovering brilliantly from the pounding at the hands of Kusal Mendis the previous day to bring up his ninth five-for. All of this translated into an innings and 53-run victory with a day and a session to spare, giving Virat Kohli’s men a winning 2-0 lead in the three-match series after Sri Lanka were bowled for 386.

Sri Lanka had started the fourth morning at 209 for 2, buoyant after the 191-run second-wicket stand between Karunaratne and Mendis but well aware that they needed 230 more merely to make India bat a second time. There was plenty of batting to come and neither survival nor run-scoring was impossible, but even though the slowing pitch facilitated these twin processes, there was also some amount of assistance for the spinners that Jadeja especially, given his pace through the air, and Ashwin were equipped enough to exploit.

Karunaratne loomed as the biggest hurdle in India’s way even though there was a wealth of stroke-making talent in the Sri Lankan change room. Blessed with tremendous temperament to go with a solid technique, Karunaratne was the one capable of batting time and giving the rest the confidence to bat around him. He had been happy to play second fiddle to the enterprising Mendis the previous evening, and his task would be pretty much the same on the fourth day – to provide the solidity and calming assurance that the rest could feed off.

Until he was in the middle, occasionally riding his luck – which was no more than he deserved given the circumstances – but largely secure despite the ball jumping and turning from outside of the business areas, Sri Lanka seemed on course to wipe off the deficit and make a statement. They had alternated between the aggressive and the watchful, between the correct and the unorthodox, between the solid and the fortunate, Karunaratne’s allies in the defiance acts first being Malinda Pushpakumara, the nightwatchman, and then Angelo Mathews, the former skipper.

Pushpakumara hung around for 45 minutes in the morning, looking in little trouble until attempting an inexplicable reverse against Ashwin that snuck under his bat and rattled timber. It had taken Ashwin his 27th over to taste his first success but one begot two for India when Dinesh Chandimal, the skipper, fell in the next over, Jadeja’s first victim in his 23rd over undone by both turn and bounce to bring Ajinkya Rahane into play at slip. Long before then, Karunaratne had brought up his hundred, but not without some help from KL Rahul at short-leg. A straightforward pop-up went into and out of the fielder’s hands with the opener on 95. A grateful Karunaratne, dismissed for 97 in the second innings in Galle, on-drove Mohammed Shami to reach the milestone, raising his bat in delight but not celebrating wildly because the job was far from done.

Mathews exploded in a flurry of strokes against Jadeja, sweeping from time to time but largely hitting down the ground. However, as the Indian spinners found their rhythm – both Jadeja and Ashwin bowled extremely well given how significantly the pitch had slowed down and how much the edges either fell short of fielders or found the gaps – the batsmen focussed on waiting for the loose balls rather than trying to manufacture strokes.

Sri Lanka went to lunch the happier of the two teams, and India must have just started to have the odd doubt when Jadeja opened the floodgates shortly upon resumption. Karunaratne did everything right – as you would expect of someone who had spent 377 minutes and seen off 307 deliveries – but his hopeful defensive push was defeated by the sudden elevation the ball attained, after which it pinged the handle and lobbed slip-wards.

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Karunaratne, the only Sri Lankan to make two hundreds while following-on, was clapped back by the Indians and by an appreciative Mathews, who threw his hand away less than ten minutes later when he played an ambitious cut against Jadeja and edged to Wriddhiman Saha. By now, Jadeja had his tail up. His pace – in the mid to late 90 kmph bracket – through the air allowed him to negate the lack of pace off the pitch somewhat, and he should have had the promoted Dilruwan Perera caught at gully had Virat Kohli, not for the first time, not premeditated a move to his right.

But Jadeja was not to be denied for long. Perera left his crease early in the left-arm spinner’s next over and Jadeja pulled his length back, forcing the batsman to walk past the ball and set up an easy stumping for Saha. In the twinkle of an eye, Sri Lanka had lost 3 for 11 in 24 deliveries and only the formalities remained.

Why Dhananjaya de Silva didn’t bat until No. 9 will remain a mystery. Picked as a specialist batsman, he came below Niroshan Dickwella and Perera, lay briefly into Jadeja and then departed with as much haste, victim of further sharp slip-catching by Rahane. But Dickwella and Rangana Herath then played their strokes with total disdain, the former favouring the sweep and the reverse-sweep to the exception of all else and the latter bringing his own unique school of batsmanship to the middle.

Their 41-run stand reiterated that there were runs to be had on this surface even midway through day four. But Sri Lanka had lost it all on the third morning itself when they lost 8 for 133 to be shot out for 183 in their first innings. From then on, there could be only one result. Sri Lanka can claim moral victory at having kept the Indians on the park for 116.5 overs in the second innings, but Kohli’s men will take the victory that matters – the one that is in the record books.


Courtesy/Source: Wisden India

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