The India Sri Lanka test series seemed out of place as absolutely nothing was tangent to what was going on. Sri Lanka had willfully walked into India’s backyard knowing too well a slaughter was impending. For India, sights were set on a more perilous assignment, the tour to South Africa. Throw in the Ashes clash and one might almost not notice this series.
FIRST TEST– ROLLER COASTER AT EDEN
Opting to bowl first, Sri Lankan bowlers were greatly aided by the rain affected surface and it looked promising for them. However, the Indian unit came back strongly and by the end of day 5, Sri Lanka was desperate to push the game into a stalemate. Virat Kohli scored a valiant century while Pujara, KL Rahul and Dhawan made customary half centuries. To sum up the Sri Lankan batting, Rangana Herath’s 67 off 105 balls was the highest Sri Lankan score.
SECOND TEST– INDIA MAULS SRI LANKA
India’s batting unit looked invincible as India made a mammoth 610 runs. Murali Vijay (128 off 221 balls) and Cheteshwar Pujara (143 off 362 balls) set the stage for skipper Virat Kohli to score his fifth double century. Test exile Rohit Sharma also compiled a century. In return, Sri Lanka could manage only 371 runs in both the innings and conceded an innings victory to the hosts.
THIRD TEST– INDIAN CHOKE-HOLD AND SRI LANKAN TEMERITY
Sri Lankan players were left breathless in Delhi at the end of the Feroz Shah Kotla encounter owing to massive pollution in Delhi and later at the hands of Delhi lad Virat Kohli’s sixth double. Amidst all the drama and pillaging, Sri Lanka witnessed a moment of magic, one that was yearned for a very long time. A gritty fightback by veteran batsmen Angelo Mathews (111 runs) and Dinesh Chandimal (164 runs) in the first innings along with Dhananjaya de Silva (119 runs) in the second gave Sri Lankan cricket fans something to rejoice at as they eked out a very unlikely draw.
India was all over the hapless Sri Lankans and made merry wherever possible.The Indian batting unit fired on all cylinders amassing 1916 runs from 5 innings averaging around 383 runs per innings. A staggering 32% of the total runs was scored by Virat Kohli. Sri Lanka managed to pick up only 36 wickets from 5 innings managing to bowl them out only once.Indian tally includes 7 half centuries, 5 centuries and 2 double centuries and hence, on an average, there were 3 impact performances with the bat per Indian innings.
Most Runs–Virat Kohli- 610 runs at an average of 152.50
Most wickets– Ravichandran Ashwin- 12 wickets at an average of 29.92
Man of the Series–Virat Kohli
Fifth Umpire Champion of the Series–Dinesh Chandimal – 366 runs at average of 61
INDIA – CAKEWALK OVER NAILS
A test series with Sri Lanka was perhaps the last thing India wanted on its plate. With the Proteas keenly waiting for the Indian touchdown in January, the Indian skipper was very vocal about how they lacked practice and acclimatization to the conditions. India however, did not depict complacency at any stage. The opener’s conundrum continues to persist with all three openers dishing out worthy performances. India will be pleased with its fast bowling stock as their performances in the make believe South African green tracks were exciting. India unfortunately does have issues to cope up with. Wriddhiman Saha and Ravi Ashwin did not get many opportunities to bat which can cause rusting as they don’t feature in the limited over setup. Kohli-Ravi Shastri duo will be faced with a dilemma when Hardik Pandya returns to play in whites and will have to take a call on the spin options.But all that is for another day as India will walk out with the satisfaction of having won the series comprehensively.
SRI LANKA- RESURGENCE ON THE HORIZON
The one thing that has consistently performed for Sri Lanka is the nature, be it rains at Eden or smog at Kotla. Sri Lanka was in a state of bother heading into the series after having dropped Kusal Mendis. The Sri Lankan bowling attack was far from intimidating, even with Herath who failed to produce results. In complete contrast to the hosts, the Islanders have had no one in the top order performing barring Dinesh Chandimal(366 runs at an average of 61). With Angelo Mathews relinquishing his bowling, Sri Lanka needs a quality all-rounder to stabilize the side further. But most importantly, Chandimal and his side will have to find a new spinner capable of filling Herath’s extraordinary void once he hangs his boots, considering the same mistake with Sangakkara and Jayawardene’s exit.
India winning the series came as no surprise.It is a test juggernaut while the Island nation was cannon fodder. And yet, there was this moment of magic, when Sri Lanka defied odds to draw a game from nowhere. India did the same when it pulled off a famous Lord’s test victory against a very in-form England in 2014 in an otherwise disastrous tour. The then team director, Ravi Shastri, had vowed on air that all this team needs are two years and it will be unstoppable. Sri Lankan fans will be hopeful of that magic to continue. A little hope brewing on the horizon may go a long way for Chandimal’s men, for there was also a time when little hope was all Dhoni’s men had before evolving into today.
Cricaddict and Foodie