For two days of the Galle test, India held an upper hand. On the third day came Dinesh Chandimal, whose single-handed effort resulted in Sri Lanka taking a tricky 175 run lead. From what looked like India’s game at the end of the second day, Chandimal dictated terms and blew away India’s 5-bowler strategy. Kohli got his 20 wickets but on a turning pitch, even the lead of 175 proved enough as Rangana Herath wreaked havoc. India’s batsmen, who could not realize their full potential even in the first innings, fell like dried leaves on the fourth day. Herath took command to demonstrate that it is the quality and not numbers that takes precedence. India’s aspirations of winning an overseas series suffered a big jolt with the 63 run loss in the first test that couldn’t span out even to the fourth day.
When India took to field on third day, they thought the match was already in their pocket. From 5/2 on the previous evening, Sri Lanka lost another wicket to totter at 5/3. But Kumara Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews batted steadily to take the score to 92, before Sanga departed, Mathews followed him three runs later and at 95/5, it still looked like India’s game. But Dinesh Chandimal had other ideas. In the company of Lahiru Thirimanne, Chandimal carried the Sri Lanka score to 220, at which point Thirimanne left the scene. But Chandimal found another able partner in Jehan Mubarak, with whom he crafted another 82-run partnership and hugely frustrated Indian bowlers. Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron were thrashed and together they yielded 116 runs in their combined 20 overs. Only the spinning trio of R Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Harbhajan Singh could make some impression but couldn’t dislodge the relentless Chandimal. The batsman didn’t spare anybody in his murderous crusade that ended in a super-quality counterattack fetching him 162 off just 169 balls. The Lankan batsman certainly rode his luck as everything that he did, went right for him. His miscued shots went to places, where there were no fielders and when he was cleanly out, the umpire didn’t see the edge. Chandimal was unmindful of all this as he tore the bowling to shreds and gave Sri Lanka a chance with a 175 run lead.
India lost Lokesh Rahul in the 5th over of their innings on the third day evening, as he played back to a full ball from Herath that struck his pads. Ishant Sharma came as a night watchman. On the fourth day, India’s batsmen played like rookies and without responsibility. After Sharma fell at the score of 30 in the 15th over, there was a beeline to the pavilion. Rohit Sharma offered a forward push to Rangana Herath and the ball flew over his bat’s shoulder to find the stumps. Virat Kohli fell to a brilliant short-leg catch, when Tharindu Kaushal spun sharply and bat-and-pad edge was pouched by Kaushal Silva. It was now 45/4 and the match had swung decisively Sri Lanka’s way. Though Ajinkya Rahane held one end, he watched helplessly as Herath continued his magical spell. At lunch, India were already reduced to 78/7. It was one of the biggest turnarounds in recent memory. The lone ranger Rahane was India’s only hope but for company, the batsman only had bowlers, who had failed to perform in Sri Lanka’s second outing and looked second rate, when Chandimal launched his onslaught. Seven Indian batsmen couldn’t cross the double-digit score and Rahane ended as the top scorer with 36. The Indian second innings folded at 112 in 49.5 overs and India woefully lost the test match by 63 runs.
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