A Test blighted by acute air pollution ended in far better conditions as Sri Lanka finally showed spine, avoiding defeat against India in a full game for the first time since August, 2015. India won the series 1-0.
The last time India played at Virat Kohli’s home ground, they overcame a blockathon by South Africa in late 2015. Sri Lanka batsmen showed better resistance.
Dhananjaya De Silva’s ton
India, having reduced Sri Lanka to 31/3 overnight, got a ‘lucky’ break when birthday boy Ravindra Jadeja got first-innings centurion Angelo Mathews caught off a no-ball. Umpire Joel Wilson made a howler, not checking if Jadeja had over-stepped.
He was alert when Jadeja bowled a no-ball the second time to bowl Dinesh Chandimal on 24. He was reprieved after the TV umpire was consulted. The Sri Lanka skipper raised 112 runs for the fifth wicket with Dhananjaya de Silva before R Ashwin broke through after lunch.
Sri Lankan batsmen, especially de Silva, used their feet to prevent Ashwin from exploiting the rough, but the off-spinner beat Chandimal with flight and loop to knock back off-stump.
De Silva made all the difference. Despite the glute problem which needed repeated attention from the physio, there was no dip in his wristy stroke play. He handled the spinners with assurance and saw off a phase after Chandimal’s dismissal when Virat Kohli dried up the runs with his field placements.
He gave a chance on 110, but it was too stiff for bowler Ashwin to hold on. India’s last chance went abegging when keeper Wriddhiman Saha missed a stumping off Jadeja.
De Silva made his Test debut last year, scoring two centuries, but was dropped after a string of low scores. He was called up for the first time this series to replace No 3 Lahiru Thirimanne, criticised for loose play.
The batsman reached his third century by punching Mohammed Shami through cover for three.
Roshen Silva, given his Test debut at 29 after scoring over 6400 first-class runs, supported de Silva and then joined Dickwella to kill Indian hopes of victory. The wicketkeeper was let-off on 32 when Wriddhiman Saha missed a stumping off Jadeja.
India were in prime position to win coming into Wednesday, but the pitch was slow and there was no trouble facing the bowling until the new ball was taken after tea, taken at 226/5.
At one point, Virat Kohli came on with opener Murali Vijay to make a point about the lifeless pitch.
After poor air quality hogged attention in the Test for three days with Sri Lanka players wearing face masks, pollution levels dropped significantly to ease the conditions.
Virat Kohli’s career-best 243 and Vijay’s 155 powered India to 536/7 declared. Sri Lanka made 373 to concede a 163-run lead before the hosts made a quick 246/5 declared to give themselves a chance to win.
India won the Nagpur Test by an innings and 239 runs after the rain-hit Kolkata game was drawn.
After three days of heavy smog and pollution debate, play started under sunshine. The pollution levels were significantly lower on Wednesday.
(Source: The Hindustan Times)