Ashwin's six floors Lankans

Cricket First Test : Hosts shot out for 183 after electing to bat, India reach 128/2 in reply on day 1

Ashwin's six floors Lankans

R Ashwin spun a web around a largely inept Sri Lankan batting as the Indians laid down the gauntlet in commanding fashion on the opening day of the first Test here on Wednesday.

Playing the lead spinner’s role to perfection, the off-spinner showed how lethal he can be in sub-continental conditions, purchasing good turn and bounce on a lively Galle International Stadium track to bag 6/46 and help India roll over a clueless Lankans for 183 in just 49.4 overs.

The Indians then weathered an early loss of wickets to march on to 128 for two, with skipper Virat Kohli (45 batting, 77b, 7x4) and Shikhar Dhawan (53 batting, 103b, 6x4) at crease, setting the stage perfectly to tighten the noose on the Lankans come Thursday.
Coming on the back of a 5/87 show against Bangladesh in the one-off Test at Fatullah in June, Ashwin was simply too good for a young and transitional Sri Lankans who had no idea on how to deal with the guile and craft of the 28-year-old bowler.

Taking charge from Varun Aaron with pacer Ishant Sharma in the middle of a hostile spell, the off-spinner kick-started the Sri Lankan downfall by removing the soon-to-be retiring Kumar Sangakkara with his third ball itself. Sangakkara played a back-foot push to a classic off-spin ball that stayed a bit low and KL Rahul completed a superb catch at silly point to leave the Sri Lankans reeling at 27/3.

With his confidence up, Ashwin then kept the Sri Lankan batsmen on a tight leash and with Ishant (first spell 7-3-7-1) too giving nothing away at the other end, the hosts struggled to break free before succumbing to the extreme pressure created by the duo. Lahiru Thirimanne (13) and Jehan Mubarak (0) fell to poor shots as Sri Lankans collapsed to 65/5 at lunch. While Thirimanne edged a turning ball from Ashwin to Ajinkya Rahane at first slip, Mubarak offered a simple catch to Rahul at forward short leg, ending his short but tough stay at the crease.

The pair of Mathews (64, 92b, 6x4, 1x6) and Chandimal (59, 77b, 9x4), who were unseparated at the crease at lunch, then staged a mini fightback in the second session. With Kohli too strangely changing his tactics and giving his bowlers only short spells, the duo mixed caution with aggression to give their side a much-needed momentum.

Their 79-run partnership, however, came to an end in the 42nd over, thanks to the brilliance of Rohit at short leg. Trying to force the pace, Mathews came down the track to Ashwin, only managing a thick bat and pad. The ball though flew but Rohit, showing good reflexes, leapt and parried it before completing a diving catch to remove the Lankan skipper.

With only the tail to follow, Chandimal flung his bat around, hoping to gather as many runs as possible. The strategy paid dividends only for a short while though as he too perished after edging an Amit Mishra leg-spinner to Ajinkya Rahane. The remaining batsmen then offered little hope as India skittled the hosts for 183 at the stroke of tea.

The Indian batting too seemed to have hit rough weather when Rahul and Rohit perished without contributing much, both falling leg before to incoming deliveries. But skipper Kohli, who marshalled his resources brilliantly on the day, and Dhawan made sure there were no further damages.

Without getting bogged down, the duo kept the scoreboard ticking along at a decent pace, making sure they were in a perfect place to set up a huge first innings lead.

score board


SRI LANKA (I Innings):
Karunaratne c Rahane b Ishant     9
(19 balls)
Silva c Dhawan b Aaron     5
(24b, 1x4)
Thirimanne c Rahane b Ashwin     13
(38b, 2x4)
Sangakkara c Rahul b Ashwin     5
(12b)
Matthews c Rohit b Ashwin     64
(92b, 6x4, 1x6)
Mubarak c Rahul b Ashwin     0
(7b)
Chandimal c Rahane b Mishra     59
(77b, 9x4)
Prasad lbw Ashwin     0
(6b)
Herath b Ashwin     23
(24b, 4x4)
Tharindu c Rohit b Mishra     0
(1b)
Pradeep (not out)     0
Extras (B-1, LB-1, NB-3)     5
Total (all out, 49.4 overs)     183
Fall of wickets: 1-15 (Karunaratne), 2-15 (Silva), 3-27 (Sangakkara), 4-54 (Thirimanne), 5-60 (Mubarak), 6-139 (Mathews), 7-155 (Prasad), 8-179 (Chandimal), 9-179 (Tharindu).
Bowling: Ishant 11-3-30-1 (nb-3), Aaron 11-0-68-1, Ashwin 13.4-2-46-6, Mishra 6-1-20-2, Harbhajan 8-1-17-0.
INDIA (I Innings):
Rahul lbw Prasad     7
(7b)
Dhawan (batting)     53
(103b, 6x4)
Rohit lbw Mathews     9
(24b, 1x4)
Kohli (batting)     45
(77b, 7x4)
Extras (LB-6, W-2, NB-6)     14
Total (for 2 wkts, 34 overs)     128
Fall of wickets: 1-14 (Rahul), 2-28 (Rohit).
Bowling: Prasad 7-0-22-1, Pradeep 8-1-32-0, Mathews 4-1-12-1, Tharindu 8-0-41-0, Herath 7-1-15-0.

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