Moments, just a few moments were all needed for India to wrap up Sri Lanka packing their bags in Day 3 of the 1st Test match of Sri Lanka’s tour of India. From the get-go, India has been exclusively dominant and controlled the flow of the game. Such were the levels of dominance from the Indian camp that Sri Lanka couldn’t even set a lead in the contest. In what can be a humorous outing, the Sri Lankan side failed to surpass India in the runs scored as well as balls faced. The humour in it is that visitors failed to do so in their two innings, while the home side made such humongous numbers in their first go, all the while declaring with two wickets still in their hands. Rohit Sharma’s test captaincy debut has been a massive success, not that there were any doubts regarding that. King Kohli failed to make it big in his 100th Test, but for all the fans out there he looked reliable and stitched a fresh partnership with Hanuma Vihari after both the openers fell. What was expected to be known as Kohli’s 100th Test venture, would now be known as the Sir Jadeja match. Why? Scroll down to know it.
Winning the toss first Rohit Sharma, on his Test captaincy debut, decided to bat first. Sharma’s decision was met with encouragement when a veteran Sunil Gavaskar declared batting first would be an ideal decision on the batting pitch of PCA Stadium. Sharma opened the innings along with Mayank Agarwal. Rohit had a blistering Sehwag-Esque start, but couldn’t turn it into a big score. India’s third-choice test opener behind Rohit and KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal speaks talent. With a cool head on his shoulders and an exquisite technique, Agarwal can hit a wide array of shots with unmatched elegance. His flexibility of playing according to the situation has been one of the most valued skills in the longest format. Anyways, opening the innings, Agarwal scored 33 runs before getting trapped by an Embuldeniya delivery. After both the torch-bearers departed a returning Hanuma Vihari and Virat Kohli stitched an innings building 90 run partnership off 25 overs to negate the effect of the new ball.Hanuma Vihari who returned to the Indian side after a long time was given the first try at the #3 spot, which belonged to Cheteshwar Pujara. Vihari repaid the faith shown on him with a well-paced 58 of 128 balls.
Virat Kohli looked secure in nearly all of his shots except for a tad one, which ultimately led to his departure. He made 45 runs. Much for the 71st century! Then came a phenomenon named Rishabh Pant. Making nearly run-a-ball, Pant blasted his way to valiant 96. A knock that defied a few laws of gravity, Pant’s presence in the pitch was surely an entertaining one. Shreyas Iyer also got a good start but failed to convert. When everyone believed the show was over, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin brought in their fireworks. Ashwin made a classy 61 off just 82 balls, but Ravindra Jadeja went on to make a career-best score of 175*. His knock was filled with some memorable shots, aggression, and his trademark sword celebration. India finally declared on 574 runs for a loss of 8 wickets in a span of 129 overs, a decision which raised a few eyebrows as Jadeja could have gone for a daddy hundred.
Sri Lanka came out to bat in the second session of Day 2 when the pitch was already offering turns. India did well to rest Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami after their gritty batting and led the onslaught with Jasprit Bumrah and Ravi Ashwin, while Jayant Yadav pitched in a few breaks. It was in the third session that Jadeja was back into bowling. At the end of Day-2, Sri Lanka put up a good fight by making 108/4 in 43 overs. Pathum Nissanka was well-set and playing to his strengths.
The actual massacre took place the next day that is on Day 3. After more than 10 overs of disciplined play by Nissanka and Asalanka, the former made his way to gritty fifty. That was the highest point of Sri Lankan innings, as what happened later was nothing short of a horror story. Bumrah struck Asalanka a couple of overs later and broke open a crank in Sri Lanka’s middle-order. In just 7 overs, Sri Lanka lost 6 wickets, ultimately collapsing to a 174, one run short of RJ. Jadeja was the main artist as the ‘Rockstar’ grabbed a 5-just after a magnanimous 175*. Jaddu ran a riot through a meek Lankan tail. Ashwin and Bumrah contributed with 2 scalps each. Nissanka was left stranded at 61*.
Rohit Sharma enforced a humiliating follow-on to Sri Lanka. Thirimanne surrendered as quickly as he came, leaving a void in Sri Lanka’s plans. Last innings hero Nissanka was the next on the line. Skipper Karunaratne was the next as he departed with a humble 27. Angelo Mathews and Dhananjaya de Silva held the fort for a while as Sri Lanka reached 94. Niroshan Dickwella stood till the end with a determined 51*. Asalanka tried to execute a Rishabh Pant but was too aggressive in his approach. It was the usual Jadeja-Ashwin pair who cleaned up others, as India struck the final blow. Sri Lanka was dusted with just 178 runs on the board. Overall, India won the proceedings by an innings and a huge 222 runs margin. Jadeja and Ashwin both had 4-fers in the second innings with Jadeja failing to join the prestigious list of all-rounders who scored a century and took a 10-wicket haul in the same match.
A few stats which were overshadowed by an unmatched Sir Jadeja are Kohli breaching the 8000-run mark in Tests and Ashwin clawing his way to become the second-highest wicket-taker in Tests for India. His current tally is at 435, one higher than the legendary Kapil Dev. Day 3 saw a total of 16 wickets falling down to a vicious pride of Indian bowlers.
The way India dominated was nothing new, but it was a good omen to see Captain Ro start a new era of Indian cricket with such great success. Ravindra Jadeja’s antics were an even greater omen as it shows Indian Cricket in the good hands of the Rohit-Dravid pair. What remains to be seen is can Sri Lanka learn something from an absolute disaster of a match and fight back against a rattling Indian side? We will have to wait and watch on 12th March.