Virat Kohli started his captaincy campaign by becoming India’s youngest captain to win an away series. Not only that, he did it in Sri Lanka. A feat not achieved in the past 22 years. Kohli also became the first Indian captain to ever win an away series from behind.
It was an uncharacteristically dominant show from the Indians. The 2-1 scoreline did not do their performance justice. It could have easily been 3-0 were it not for a audacious 162* from Dinesh Chandimal.
Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first. They appeared to be out of their depth though as Ravi Ashwin picked up six wickets and India bowled out the hosts for 183 (a rare moment for India in recent years). The second innings saw India take a 192 run lead with the help of captain Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan. It looked as though India could win by an innings as Sri Lanka were reduced to 5-3 within the first five overs of their second innings. However, a stunning performance from Chandimal gave Sri Lanka a target to bowl to. India were chasing down 176 on a ground where 99 had been the highest successful chase. Sri Lanka’s bowlers (in particular Rangana Herath), along with the daunting statistics of fourth inning chases at Galle saw India fall 63 runs short. A collapse that was all too familiar for India. It was a disappointing performance from the batsmen as Ravi Ashwin’s ten-for and Ajinkya Rahane’s record breaking eight catches went unrewarded.
However from a 1-0 position, India bounced back impressively to win the second test by 278 runs. Opener Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out through injury, however his counterpart Lokesh Rahul made a huge impact scoring his second Test century. Contributions from the captain and Rohit Sharma gave India a solid score of 393. The visitors once again bowled our Sri Lanka and went in to bat with a lead of 87. A magnificent century from Ajinkya Rahane gave Sri Lanka a daunting target of 412. However once again Sri Lanka’s batsman failed them. The hosts were unable to muster up enough grit to send off Kumar Sangakkara on a high. Sri Lanka collapsed for 134.
In the third test was a slightly more rocky ride for India. They were put in to bat and bar Cheteshwar Pujara, the batsmen fell like flies. Only a 104-run partnership between Pujara and Amit Mishra helped India to reach 312. Not a single other player scored above 30. Once again however, Sri Lanka’s batsmen let down the impressive performance from Dhammika Prasad and the other bowlers. Angelo Matthews’ men fell for 201 as Ishant Sharma took five wickets. Were it not for their first innings 100 run lead, it would have been a much closer match as India’s top order once again failed to perform. They were however saved by their middle-lower order and Sri Lanka were unable to chase down the total.
It had been an incredibly long 25 years since India took 60 wickets in a three Test series. It was also only the fifth ever series India had won away from home, with the last one (against a team other than Bangladesh or Zimbabwe) coming in 2004.
Hopefully Kohli’s drive will continue to push India in the right direction (results-wise and not attitude-wise).