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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Sri Lanka salvage draw; India take series 1-0

Thursday, 07 December 2017 10:54
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New Delhi, December 6: India bowled their hearts out. Sri Lanka countered with an unshrinking resolve. After three vigorous sessions of cricket, the visitors, spurred by Dhananjaya de Silva's combative 119, succeeded in forcing a draw. India earned the consolation of clinching the three-match Test series 1-0 at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Wednesday, equalling Australia's record of nine consecutive Test series wins.

With Sri Lanka beginning the day at 31/3, in pursuit of 410, India had all the reasons to push for a possible victory. The Sri Lankan batting had been collapsing like nine pins in the series. But the visitors portrayed stubbornness and survival skills which have not been associated with them in recent times. They were assisted in their task by a blameless pitch, which even on the fifth day had little for the bowlers.

Dhananjaya's knock demonstrated the Sri Lankan resilience before he retired hurt with cramps. Debutant Roshen Silva (74 n.o.), who was out for a duck in the first innings, and Niroshan Dickwella (44 n.o.) then took over to dominate the bowling. With Sri Lanka at 299/5, and seven overs remaining for the day, the two sides agreed to call off the game.

Unlike the previous day, the sun beat down generously to dispel pollution concerns for the day. The alarming smog situation had overshadowed some brilliant batting performance from the Indians, including the sixth double century by India captain Virat Kohli.

India began brightly too when Angelo Mathews was caught at slips off Ravindra Jadeja. The replays showed he had overstepped but umpire Joel Wilson failed to notice it. Seamers Mohammad Shami and Ishant Sharma tested the Sri Lankan batsmen with short balls but Dhananjaya and captain Dinesh Chandimal were up to the challenge. The two sedately tormented the Indians with their fluent strokes and shot selection that prospered into a sparkling 112-run partnership for the fifth wicket.

Chandimal was snared shortly after lunch. Ravichandran Ashwin's tossed up delivery invited him out. The Sri Lankan captain wanted to put it away to mid-wicket but the ball spun and snuck in through his bat and pad to hit the stumps.

Dhananjaya, however, delighted in his plucky knock. Under pressure, he displayed great composure in keeping his team alive in the contest. The 26-year-old handled the short balls with maturity, and dealt with the spinners with ease. Against Ashwin, he didn't flinch in going for the sweep despite being severely plagued by back cramps which required frequent attention. 

He reached his third Test century with a steer to point in the middle of the second session. He couldn't continue for long though and had to retire. Roshen was welcomed by an attacking field but he held his nerve. His experience of 103 first class innings came to the fore and he quickly found himself in a zone.

India took the new ball an over before tea and entered the final session needing five wickets. But it was not to be. Roshen and Dickwella remained unchallenged till the end. India could pick only two wickets the whole of Wednesday. It was not the result they had hoped for, but against the invigorating batting display of the Sri Lankans, there was little they could do.(PTI)


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