Sri Lanka complete a remarkable turnaround to win the 1st Test
Sri Lanka beat India by 63 runs in the first Test at Galle to take a 1-0 lead in the 3-match Test series. Requiring 153 runs on the final day with 9 wickets in hand, India started firm favourites, but the Sri Lankan spin duo picked wickets at regular intervals to pull off a massive win.
India began the day in a very sedate fashion. Ishant Sharma was the first to go as he lost his wicket to Rangana Herath. He made 10 from 23 deliveries. Shikhar Dhawan looked to block his way through the first hour or so and scored his first runs of the day off his 36th delivery with an inside edge boundary.
Rohit Sharma had another outing to forget which has now put his spot in the side for the second Test under threat. He made just 4 runs from 16 deliveries as the veteran left-arm spinner broke through his defenses.
But it was skipper Virat Kohli’s dismissal that triggered the collapse for India as he inside edged the ball to the short leg fielder while facing Tharindu Kaushal. The off-spinner struck again as he took a terrific diving catch to send Dhawan back for an 83-ball 25.
First innings hero Wriddhiman Saha then joined hands with Ajinkya Rahane, only to lose his balance against Herath as he was stumped for just 2 leaving India reeling at 65 for 6.
Surprisingly, the tourists sent in Harbhajan Singh ahead of Ashwin at number 8 probably hoping for some big hits from the Turbanator to relieve the pressure. But he didn’t last long as Herath picked up his 5th wicket. Kaushal Silva at short leg took a sharp catch.
Ravichandran Ashwin finally walked out and looked assured against the spinners but another brilliant piece of fielding from Dhammika Prasad this time sent him back to the pavilion immediately after lunch.
Leg-spinner Amit Mishra and Rahane gave some hope with a 21-run stand for the 9th wicket before the left-arm spinner came back to remove India’s in-form Test batsman to end the touring side’s comeback.
India will be left questioning themselves after dominating the Test for two and half days. Despite gaining a massive 192-run lead in the first innings and having Lanka in deep trouble at 95 for 5 in the second, they failed to capitalize on the advantage.
Credit should go to Dinesh Chandimal who changed the entire complexion of the Test with a counter attacking unbeaten 162. He did survive two close calls before making his hundred, but the team management will only have their own board to blame for this debacle.
The second Test will now be played at Colombo on the 20th of August. It will be Kumar Sangakkara’s farewell Test and the Lankans would love to send him off with a series win. On the other hand, the Indian batsmen will look back at this shambolic 4th innings effort with the bat and would be looking to turn things around to stay alive in the series.
That's it now! Brilliant from Herath. Brilliant from Sri Lanka. One of their greatest ever performances.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) August 15, 2015