Ravindra Jadeja became the first Indian in 50 years to go over 150 and take a five-for in the same test as India hammered Sri Lanka by an inning and 222 runs at Mohali. were able to top Jadeja’s unbeaten 175 in their first innings of 174, and barely managed to do so in their follow-up effort of 178. In all, they lost 16 wickets on day three of the first Test, and their combined tally of 125 overs over the two innings fell short of the 129.2 India faced in the only innings they beat and declared on 574.
It may be worth recalling some of the Indian benchmarks from this test, because as far as competition goes, there were almost none. Rohit Sharma started his Test captaincy with a landslide victory, Virat Kohli had a decent 45 outing in his 100th Test in which he topped 8000 points, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane didn’t miss the first Test in a decade that had neither, and Ravichandran Ashwin surpassed Kapil Dev’s 434 test wickets to become India’s second most successful bowler. behind Anil Kumble.
The scoreboard may scream “dustbowl” to some given that Indian spinners picked up 15 of Sri Lanka’s 20 wickets and the match ended in three days. The reality is that India had no- even lost only eight wickets in almost five striking sessions; and even on the third day, breaking through could only have taken hard work if Sri Lanka had been in the mood for something that might have looked like a contest.
It actually took India an hour to strike on Sunday morning after the Sri Lankans came back to their first innings 108 for 4. As Ashwin would later say, it was hard to get the batsmen out on this pitch if they weren’t attacking. midwickets and a short extra cover, but they got next to nothing positive, though their presence kept the batsmen quiet. Ashwin beat the bat but also the stumps, and the edges did not wear to slip.
Enter Jasprit Bumrah, with a surprise dipping out of the way around the stumps which have risen alarmingly after tilting sharply. It would have been unplayable for any batsman, and Charith Asalanka was the unfortunate one on this occasion.
It was the signal for Sri Lanka to self-destruct. Niroshan Dickwella came out sweeping and while it might have worked for a while against Ashwin if played carefully, it wasn’t advised against Jadeja. Especially when the ball burst from the outside. the left-handed strain, and there was a deep square leg as well as a back square leg.
Suranga Lakmal was the best representative of the Sri Lankan state of mind. In both runs. As soon as he entered, he charged at Jadeja only to give mid-range and mid-range catching practice for a few ducks. In no time, Jadeja had ripped off the tail, and Sri Lanka had gone from 161 for 4 in 58th to 174 in 65. Pathum Nissanka, who had had two lives, was stuck on an otherwise decidedly compiled 61.
Jadeja once said it was a dream to go a century and take five wickets in the same test, and here he made that dream come true. As Rohit said of him, “Hunger keeps athletes going.” And this refined version of Jadeja is nothing if you’re not hungry, whether with a bat or a ball.
No Fight The only hunger that could be associated with Sri Lanka, like any living thing, was the basic one to refuel. In the four overs between the start of their follow-up innings and lunch, they lost Lahiru Thirimanne , edging out the slide for his umpteenth fall at the hands of Ashwin.
If bowling’s pace genius had come from Bumrah in the opening innings, it came from Mohammed Shami after the interval. A short ball was followed by a quick, wheelie delivery around the wicket, hitting the stumps and moving just a bit to get ahead of Dimuth Karunaratne.
The extra short cover was finally to kick in when Dhananjaya de Silva found Jadeja’s length not so manageable and blasted it to the defender. That’s the thing with Jadeja; his relentless precision is on display all the time, but like the classic left-arm spinners of yore, he just doesn’t seem to get where batsmen think he will, forcing mistakes on them. Even two days before the game in the net, he had beaten Rohit first pitch on the defensive forward with steal, dunk and spin.
There isn’t much to say about the rest of the Sri Lankan follow-up except that Ashwin and Jadeja used four wickets apiece, finishing with six and nine respectively for the match. Dickwella picked his shots with a little more caution this time to make an undefeated 51.
Sri Lanka had a partnership of fifty in the entire game, while India had three centuries of stands in their innings alone. It wasn’t just that the visitors were totally outplayed, their batsmen barely seemed to mood to fight.
Captain Karunaratne did not try to defend the indefensible. “Hitters need to put their hands up and bat longer innings,” Karunaratne said during the postgame presentation. “When you play against India you have to capitalize on the starts. “It was easy to hit on that track, once you get in you have to score big. We were too defensive or too aggressive with the bat. We have to find a balance between the two by rotating the strike and going to the other end. That’s how you play a big inning.”
Building a big inning is likely to get tougher with the pink ball under the lights in the second and final Test starting in Bengaluru on March 12. It’s a Saturday, so at least the weekend crowd will get their money’s worth, as they did here in Mohali, regardless of whether Sri Lanka develops the will to fight in a week.