Mohali: Ravindra Jadeja stood tall with his all-round brilliance as he complemented his unbeaten 175 with nine wickets in India’s innings and 222-run win against a Sri Lankan team that looked anything but Test class in a match that ended inside three days.
After being bowled out for 174 in the first innings, Sri Lanka, who lost 16 wickets on the day, were dismissed for 178 in their second essay. In the first innings, they were one short of Jadeja’s individual score and in the second they were three more, which speaks about their plight.
India lead the two-match series 1-0, and will like to gain full 24 points from the rubber by winning the Pink Ball Test in Bengaluru, starting March 12.
The match as a contest was over on the first day when India scored 357 and then piled on Sri Lanka’s misery with Jadeja toying with a depleted bowling attack.
It is after 60 years that an Indian has scored 150 runs and taken five wickets in an innings. Vinoo Mankad, in 1952 against England at Lord’s, and Polly Umrigarh in 1962 versus West Indies at Delhi, are the other owners of this rare feat.
If that wasn’t enough, India got as many as 16 wickets on the third day to wrap up the match with a cumulative bowling effort of 125 overs across two innings.
Jadeja (175 not out, 5/41 and 4/46) made the match his own while Ravichandran Ashwin (4/47 in 21 overs) also had a satisfying run, replacing Kapil Dev (434 in 131 games) as India’s second highest wicket-taker with 436 victims. He is now only behind Anil Kumble’s 619 scalps.
One of the contemporary greats, Ashwin achieved the feat in his 85th Test match compared to Kapil’s 131 games.
While the generations and the conditions between the times of Kapil and Ashwin can’t be compared and more so because they possessed different skill-sets but, based on pure numbers, the Tamil Nadu man’s achievement is phenomenal.
Such was the regularity of getting wickets that there was hardly any cause for celebrations and excitement as it seemed a foregone conclusion.
There was no stomach for a fight by this Sri Lankan team and some of the players, like old guard Angelo Mathews and the controversial Niroshan Dickwella (first innings dismissal), seemed primarily disinterested during their stay at the crease.
The wicket had its bit of turn and uneven bounce but nothing much to trouble the batters, but the Lankans made a heavy weather during their two stints, making both Jadeja and Ashwin look more menacing than they actually were.
In fact none of the Lankan batters could understand which of Jadeja’s delivery will be a straighter one and which ones will turn. The mess in their minds caused mess in their approach too.
While the World Test Championships have added a context to every series, lopsided matches against teams who aren’t skilled enough to compete for long periods of time makes it a bad advertisement for Test cricket.
After Rohit Sharma asked Sri Lanka to follow-on after dismissing them for 174, 400 runs adrift of India’s first-innings score of 574 for eight, the visitors were in trouble again after Lahiru Thirimanne became Ashwin’s 433rd victim.
Post lunch, it was first-innings half-centurion Pathum Nissanka whose outside edge to a delivery that didn’t turn much, was snapped by Rishabh Pant to complete a memorable feat for Ashwin.
In between, Mohammed Shami got Dimuth Karunaratne (27) to edge one to Pant, who took a low diving catch, while Ravindra Jadeja got his sixth scalp of the game by removing Dhananjaya de Silva (30).
Mathews (27 batting) and Charith Asalanka (20 batting) hit some lusty blows to entertain the Sunday crowd.
Earlier, Jadeja’s superb all-round show helped the hosts end Sri Lanka’s first innings in the first session itself.
Virat Kohli’s 100th Test and Rohit Sharma’s first game as skipper turned out to be Jadeja’s match as his 5 for 41 in 13 overs had the islanders crashing in just 45 overs.
Worse, Sri Lanka lost six wickets for 13 runs as they were 161 for four after the first hour, with Pathum Nissanka (61 no off 133 balls) and Charith Asalank adding 58 runs.
It all changed after Jasprit Bumrah (2/36 in 14 overs) got one to straighten and trapped Asalanka leg-before.
The batters who came in after that didn’t show enough application to stick around and some of the shot selections, to say the least, were atrocious.
Dickwella’s (2) slog sweep off Jadeja was the most indiscreet as he top-edged it to Shreyas Iyer at square leg.
Suranga Lakmal survived a DRS but soon jumped out to only offer a skier to Ashwin and then it was just a matter of time before their first innings folded.
Ashwin (2/49) and Mohammed Shami (1/27) also got their names on the wickets column with the islanders not even looking like being in the context.