It was on the Lords cricket ground that India registered their last test match victory against England. That was July 2014 and Ishant Sharma emerged as the hero of that victory. Since then, there have been only losses and draws. They looked like taking the Galle test but Dinesh Chandimal stood in their way. Finally the victory has come in the Colombo’s second test, where R Ashwin and Amit Mishra spun the hosts in a surprisingly short time. First innings’ centurion Angelo Mathews was potentially the biggest threat for India on the final day morning but Umesh Yadav extracted an edge from his bat for a caught-behind for the same overnight score of 72. After that, the Sri Lankan innings folded far too quickly. The last 8 Sri Lankan wickets were worth just 62 runs and India emerged victorious by 278 runs. It was not the way Kumara Sangakkara would have fancied in his farewell test but the emotional cricketer had little control on the proceedings and India did put up a forceful performance. With the victory in the second test, India also got back the chance of recording a series win if they could beat the Lankans in the third test at different venue in Colombo from August 28, 2015. However, India should be on guard because Sri Lanka also have the potential to bounce back. They showed that in the Galle test just a few days back.
India had a dream start on the final day morning, when Umesh Yadav got rid of Angelo Mathews. It was the morning’s first ball that pitched just outside of the off stump and the Sri Lanka skipper poked at it and stand-in wicketkeeper Lokesh Rahul finished a fine diving catch. After Mathew left, India’s tormentor at Galle, Dinesh Chandimal walked in. Chandimal fended off the remaining five deliveries from Yadav to give the bowler a wicket maiden. When Chandimal lofted Ishant Sharma for a huge six in the fourth over of the day and followed it with a boundary, India must have been alarmed. However Kohli brought Amit Mishra two overs later and the reward was immediate. Off his second ball, Mishra engineered a classical dismissal. He bowled Chandimal around his pads even as the Sri Lanka wicketkeeper went for a sweep to the ball that pitched on the leg side. He couldn’t make any contact and the turning ball crashed on the stumps in a pure joy for Mishra and his colleagues on the field.
After 11 overs in the morning, Ashwin was called into the attack with Sri Lanka on 102/4. However, Kohli persisted with Ishant Sharma from the other end. Ashwin struck in his second over as Thirimanne pushed early on a dipping off-spinner and substitute fielder Cheteshwar Pujara brought off a great catch at silly point. Sri Lanka were now 106/5 and that soon became 111/6, when Ishant Sharma removed new man Jehan Mubarak. Now India needed 4 more wickets with Dimuth Karunaratne being the only recognized batsman. Ashwin removed Karunaratne with a beautiful ball that skidded on his pads before hitting his stumps. Now it looked like India could close the match before lunch with Sri Lanka on 123/8. Five runs later, Amit Mishra produced a googly that trapped Tharundu Kaushal plumb in front. With the last pair batting, it started raining and lunch was hastened by 10 minutes. Kohli’s brows were furrowed as he walked back to the pavilion. Having come so close, the India captain didn’t want to lose to the rains. There were cheers all around as Sri Lankan fans relished the prospects of a drawn game.
Luckily for Kohli and India, the rain stopped and play resumed after lunch. Once Umesh Yadav bowled three balls to complete his unfinished over, Amit Mishra removed Dushmantha Chameera with another googly in the second over after lunch. The batsman padded up, when the ball would have hit the stumps and the umpire’s finger went up immediately. With that India recorded the much-awaited victory in test cricket after thirteen months. Coming close on the heels of a humiliating loss at Galle, the 278-run victory was the first under Virat Kohli’s captaincy. The Indians go to the third test on a high and they will be looking for an elusive overseas series win after a long long time.