India claims Test series win after 22-year against Sri Lanka
Colombo, Sep 1 (IANS) India on Tuesday claimed an away Test series win against Sri Lanka after 22 years as they clinched the decisive third match by 117 runs for a 2-1 triumph on the fifth day at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) ground here.
In pursuit of 386 runs for victory on the final day, Sri Lanka were bowled out for 268 in their second innings despite strong resistance from captain Angelo Mathews (110) and Kusal Perera (70).
Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin picked up figures of 4-69 and was ably supported by pacer Ishant Sharma (3-32).
The win marked India’s first away Test series victory since 2011 when they defeated the West Indies. It was also Virat Kohli’s first series triumph as captain of the Test team. And it was the third time that India have won a Test series after losing the first match.
Ashwin took 21 wickets to be declared the Man-of-the-Series. Ishant also became only the fourth Indian pacer after stalwarts Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan to bag 200 Test wickets.
Cheteshwar Pujara was declared the Man-of-the-Match for his unbeaten 145 that propelled India to 312 in the first innings.
Resuming the day at 67/3, the islanders were put under relentless pressure from the very beginning, especially with Ishant bowling his heart out.
At the other end, Umesh Yadav reaped the reward as he got right-hander Kaushal Silva caught while trying to pull a bouncer. He only succeeded to hand it to Pujara at short mid-wicket.
Lahiru Thirimanne was peppered with short balls and swinging deliveries that jumped off good length but the left-hander weathered the early storm and supported his skipper well. Their 33-run partnership was ended by Ashwin, who succeeded in foxing Thirimanne by a looping delivery.
The left-hander closed the face of the bat but the ball managed to fly off the leading edge. Lokesh Rahul grabbed it brilliantly at silly point.
Mathews was joined by Perera. They were defiant at times, but the two wickets gave India the upper hand as the hosts went into lunch at 134/5.
At the post-lunch session, the partnership between Mathews and Perera flourished, igniting hopes of a possible draw for the hosts.
Sri Lanka were in attacking mode as Perera latched onto any loose ball that came his way. Perera went after leg-spinner Amit Mishra, hitting him to the boundary twice in an over. All-rounder Stuart Binny also suffered considerable punishment.
Mathews was perhaps lucky to survive a googly from Mishra when he appeared to be trapped in front of the stumps. But the umpire turned down Mishra’s strong appeal.
The 28-year-old continued his good work and registered his seventh Test century, his second in the series, while Perera scored his second career 50.
The tourists finally broke the 135-run partnership as a rush of blood prompted Perera to reverse-sweep Ashwin but the miscued shot found Rohit Sharma at point.
Mathews and Rangana Herath remained unconquered at 110 and 3 respectively to take Sri Lanka to 249/6 at tea.
But in the final session, the Indian bowlers came out all guns blazing as the resilient Mathews fell prey to Ishant. He made the mistake of playing the wrong line to a full-length delivery.
After the Sri Lankan captain got out, India took just five overs to wrap up the innings.
Herath, Dhammika Prasad and Nuwan Pradeep were the last three batsmen to get out, adding just 11 runs.