In what was quite an eventful day of Test cricket at the Pallekele International Stadium, India took complete control of the game after Sri Lanka’s fighting display on the first day.
All rounder Hardik Pandya achieved his maiden Test century in style scoring a brilliant 108 off just 96 deliveries to help India post a commanding 487 runs in their first innings on a lively pitch before the hosts self-destructed and were bowled out for just 135 runs in their reply.
Dinesh Chandimal’s men had made 19 runs for the loss of Upul Tharanga by the time stumps were drawn on Sunday.
On a day were India extinguished all hopes of the hosts coming back into the game to take a consolation win, we look at the key talking points.
Sri Lankan chinaman leg-spinner Lakshan Sandakan had taken two quick wickets in the space of three overs to reduce the visitors to 421/9.
With number 11 Umesh Yadav for company, Pandya, who had been circumspect en-route to his half century, took the game by the scruff of the neck in Pushpakumara’s 23rd over.
The first ball was sent to the boundary with a powerful slog sweep and the same result was achieved in the next delivery with a flat hit down the ground past the bowler.
The next three deliveries were hit for three massive sixes, with one of them punching a hole through the side-screen.
In the course of five deliveries, Pandya had accumulated 26 runs, the third highest scored off a single over in Test cricket. The final delivery would be a bit of an anti-climax with no run coming off it but Pandya had changed the complexion of the match in a single over.
From there on, it was all down-hill for Chandimal’s men.
After having a torrid time in the Colombo Test where he scored a measly two runs in as many innings, Tharanga’s horror show continued at Pallekele.
In just the third over of the Sri Lankan innings, Mohammed Shami had the left-handed opener caught behind by Wriddhiman Saha.
Tharanga played for the in-swing but due to the ball holding its line, he could only feather a thin edge through to the wicket-keeper. There was a loud noise and the umpire had no hesitation in sending the opener back.
Surprisingly to one and all, Tharanga called for a review. The replays did the 32-year-old no favours and down went one of Sri Lanka’s precious reviews. The batsmen to follow wouldn’t have taken too kindly to the wasted review from the veteran who had done something similar in Colombo.
After Shami removed both the Lankan openers within five overs, the onus was on the young Kusal Mendis to continue from where he had left-off in Colombo along with the skipper.
It wasn’t to be though as Mendis was run-out in bizarre fashion off Shami’s bowling. Chandimal flicked a leg-side delivery from the pacer to the left of Ravichandra Ashwin at mid-on who made a brilliant diving stop.
Mendis had made it down half-way down the pitch when the skipper sent him back. The throw from Ashwin missed the stumps and Mendis casually strolled back thinking he was safe.
What he did not realize was that Kuldeep Yadav had been backing up the throw at short-cover and so leisurely was Mendis’ walk back that the young spinner had all the time in the world to remove the stump with an accurate throw.
The run-out, inexcusable as it was, was a wider reflection of the gulf in class and professionalism between the two teams.
According to the Guardian, Jos Buttler has penned a contract worth £200,000 to star in this year’s edition of the Bangladesh Premier League.
However, the wicket-keeper batsman’s participation in November’s T20 tournament will hinge on whether England allow the 26-year-old to play in the country on security grounds or the Three Lions opt to utilise him as a reserve stump-man for the Ashes series.
Buttler has signed an agreement to join Comilla Victornians for the tournament that begins on November 2 – a date that clashes with England’s tour Down Under.
The fact that the Lancastrian is behind Jonny Bairstow in the Test selection stakes has undoubtedly been a big factor in Buttler’s decision to feature in the BPL, though he is more than likely to play a part in England’s subsequent limited-overs clashes against Australia early in 2018.
Despite concerns over security, England toured Bangladesh last winter and Buttler, who was part of the tourists’ team for the one-day series, will need security clearance from the ECB to return to the country.
Sri Lankan spinners struck back with three wickets to check India’s surge after opener Shikhar Dhawan smashed a century on the opening day of the third and final Test on Saturday.
The left-handed Dhawan hit a 123-ball 119 before becoming left-armer Malinda Pushpakumara’s second victim at the Pallekele International cricket Stadium.
India were 235-3 at tea with skipper Virat Kohli on 11 and Ajinkya Rahane on three. Kohli won the toss and elected to bat first in their bid for a series sweep.
A 188-run opening stand between Dhawan and Lokesh Rahul, who made 85, took India through the first session without losing a wicket against a hapless Sri Lankan attack.
Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal then rotated his spinners in the second session and India lost three top batsmen in just 11 overs.
Rahul, who scored his seventh consecutive Test fifty, was the first to go after mistiming a drive to mid-on off Pushpakumara.
Rahul joins Everton Weekes, Andy Flower, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kumar Sangakkara and Chris Rogers in the list of batsmen who have made seven consecutive 50-plus scores in Tests.
Left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan sent Cheteshwar Pujara back to the pavilion for eight after the batsman edged the ball to slip.