Lanka send India spinning

Cricket First Test : Herath grabs 7/48 as Kohli's men suffer an embarrassing defeat

Lanka send India spinning

India slipped into a self-dug trench, allowing a resurgent Sri Lanka to score a stunning victory in the opening Test here on Saturday.

Starting the day at 23/1 and needing another 153 runs for victory, the Indians suffered a shocking collapse on the fourth day with veteran Rangana Herath (7/48) running through them like a hot knife through butter. In the face of an outstanding spell of left-arm spin bowling (18-6-35-6), India folded up for a dismal 112 all out in 49.5 overs at the Galle International Stadium.

The Sri Lankans, well behind the eight ball for two days and appearing down and out by lunch on Friday, thus completed a great recovery and a famous 63-run win, giving legend Kumar Sangakkara a fitting tribute as he bids adieu to international cricket in the second Test starting next Thursday in Colombo.

Having set a tricky target to the Indians, thanks in large part to a superb counter-attacking 162 not out from Chandimal, the Lankans knew they had the runs on the board and the Indians still had to do the chasing on a track that offered plenty of turn and bounce.

Just like the second day of the match where they began in cautious fashion before opening their shoulders as the day wore on, the Indians chose to give the opening half-hour to the bowlers. That strategy which paid dividends in the first innings sadly spelt their death knell in the second essay with none having any idea as to how to deal with the turning ball.

The opening seven overs saw just seven runs being scored for the loss of nightwatchman Ishant Sharma, who fell leg-before to Herath with the 37-year-old’s first ball of the day. From there on, it was just a downward slide with only Ajinkya Rahane (36, 76b, 4x4) and Amit Mishra 15 (36b, 3x4) showing some inclination of a fight.

Rohit Sharma, for whom Sri Lanka has been anything but a kind place to bat, departed soon after Ishant for just four runs. Playing the wrong line off Herath, the Mumbaikar’s forward defensive prod saw the ball go past the bat and clip his off stump to leave India in a spot of bother at 34 for three.

Opener Dhawan, centurion in the first innings, too found the going tough with both pacer Nuwan Pradeep and Herath keeping a tight leash and offering no freebies whatsoever. From the time he took guard from the first ball of the day, he didn’t score a run in 35 deliveries, the first run coming off an inside edge that sped to fine leg for four.

All that just kept piling on the pressure and when skipper Virat Kohli (3) departed, caught spectacularly by Silva at forward short leg off Kaushal (3/47), the Indians found themselves in a deep hole at 4/45. A brief resistance ensued from Rahane and Dhawan but when the left-hander was sent packing following a brilliant caught and bowled effort by Kaushal, the nails were being driven on the coffin.

The plan to counter-attack and arrest the rot they got into by promoting Harbhajan Singh ahead of R Ashwin at No 6 too backfired miserably when the veteran departed to another extraordinary piece of close-in fielding. Pushing forward to a Herath delivery that slid off the surface, Harbhajan, much to his dismay, saw Silva pull off diving catch right under his nose after the ball ricocheted off the pad and bat.

Thereafter it was just a matter of when the end would come and it happened in the penultimate ball of the 50th over. Mishra, waging a lone battle and hoping to make the most with last man Varun Aaron, edged a bat and pad which Dimuth Karunaratne latched on to off Kaushal’s bowling.

The Sri Lankans erupted in celebrations and although the umpires delayed their party by a few seconds, they couldn't stop them from plucking the stumps after having scripted one of the most stunning turnarounds seen in Test cricket.

score board

SRI LANKA (I Innings): 183
INDIA (I Innings): 375
SRI LANKA (II Innings): 367
INDIA (II Innings, O/n: 23/1):
Rahul lbw Herath    5
(14 balls)
Dhawan c&b Kaushal    28
(83b, 3x4)
Ishant lbw Herath    10
(23b, 1x4)
Rohit b Herath    4
(16b, 1x4)
Kohli c Silva b Kaushal    3
(10b)
Rahane c Mathews b Herath    36
(76b, 4x4)
Saha st Chandimal b Herath    2
(11b)
Harbhajan c Silva b Herath    1
(7b)
Ashwin c Prasad b Herath    3
(20b)
Mishra c Karunaratne b Kaushal    15
(36b, 3x4)
Aaron (not out)    1
(4b)
Extras (LB-2, W-1, NB-1)    4
Total (all out, 49.5 overs)    112
Fall of wickets: 1-12 (Rahul), 2-30 (Ishant), 3-34 (Rohit), 4-45 (Kohli), 5-60 (Dhawan), 6-65 (Saha), 7-67 (Harbhajan), 8-81 (Ashwin), 9-102 (Rahane).
Bowling: Prasad 4-2-4-0, Herath 21-6-48-7, Kaushal 17.5-1-47-3, Pradeep 6-3-8-0, Mathews 1-0-3-0.

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