A blazing century from all-rounder Hardik Pandya and four wickets from spinner Kuldeep Yadav left India in total command of the third and final Test against Sri Lanka on Sunday.
Kuldeep led an inspired bowling display with his left-arm wrist spin to help dismiss Sri Lanka for 135 in response to India’s 487, before the visitors enforced the follow-on in Pallekele in search of a series whitewash.
The hosts were 19-1 at stumps on day two, still trailing India by 333 runs. Dimuth Karunaratne on 12 and nightwatchman Malinda Pushpakumara on nought were at the crease.
Paceman Umesh Yadav had opener Upul Tharanga trudging back to the pavilion for seven after the left-handed batsman dragged a delivery, which was going away, onto his stumps.
But it was Pandya’s 96-ball 108 that paved the way for India’s dominance after resuming the day on 329-6.
“It was an ideal opportunity and obviously there was a team’s goal which was to get them a 400-run target and we scored close to 490. I was taking a calculative risk,” Pandya told reporters.
“I am pretty lucky to have such a team and such people who are supporting me and backing me all out,” Pandya, who made his Test debut in the series opener in Galle, added.
Kuldeep, another Indian rookie, then flattened the Sri Lankan batting in the hosts’ first innings, returning impressive figures of 4-40 in just his second Test.
The 22-year-old turned on the heat to rattle the middle order and combined with fellow spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to wipe out the tail in the final session.
Off-spinner Ashwin took two wickets including the prized scalp of skipper Dinesh Chandimal, who top-scored with a gritty 87-ball 48.
Pace spearhead Mohammed Shami also contributed two wickets, removing the Sri Lankan openers in the first five overs of the innings.
Pandya, 23, also chipped in with his pace bowling to have former captain Angelo Mathews lbw for nought.
But it was Pandya’s batting blitz that tore apart the Sri Lanka attack as the right-hander hit 8 fours and 7 sixes after starting on his overnight score of one.
He was finally out to spinner Lakshan Sandakan, who claimed his first five-wicket Test haul, on the third ball of the second session as India’s innings ended without adding to the lunch total.
“I always wanted to play Test cricket. Its name is Test because it is a difficult format; it tests your patience, fitness, temperament,” said Pandya, who is already being compared to iconic Indian all-rounder Kapil Dev.
Meanwhile Sri Lanka’s batting coach Hashan Tillakaratne gave no excuses for the team’s poor batting performance, but said he hoped the boys will learn from their mistakes.
“It’s a disappointing day. We batted so poorly today, I am sure the boys have realised where we went wrong (and) will come out with a better plan tomorrow,” said the former batsman.
“There are so many things that you can say when the team is not doing too well. This is the time we must back these guys and give them confidence,” he added.
India are eyeing their first-ever series sweep in Sri Lanka after taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in Colombo.
Hardik Pandya created history by taking 26 runs off Sri Lankan spinner Malinda Pushpakumara’s over during day two of the final Test between the hosts and India at Pallekele.
Pandya’s sublime hitting against the spinner on his way to his maiden first-class hundred was the highest amount of runs scored by an Indian in a single over of Test cricket.
Among all the Test playing nations, the all-rounder’s 26 runs have been bettered only twice in history and we take a look at the five of the most expensive overs in the history of the five-day format.
The legendary Brian Lara features on the top of this list with his 28 runs taken off South African left-arm spinner Robin Peterson.
After the Proteas scored a daunting 561 runs in the first innings, the Caribbean side were in trouble needing 29 runs to avoid the follow on with tail-ender Mervyn Dillon giving Lara company at the crease.
The classical left-hander dispatched the first ball for a boundary while the following two were deposited over the stands for the maximum. The final three deliveries were sent to the boundary again with the Proteas selecting to keep the field up for Lara.
Lara and West Indies managed to avoid the follow on courtesy those 28 runs and a world record was set for the maximum runs in an over of Test cricket.
George Bailey equalled Lara’s world record a decade later in the third Test between Australia and England in the Ashes series down under.
The right-handed batsman, playing in only his third Test, took apart England’s premier pacer James Anderson to plunder 28 runs off his over in the second innings.
The first delivery was flicked over the slips for a boundary while the following one was sent straight over the bowler’s head for a straight six. Bailey took a couple of runs in the third delivery and sent the fourth delivery for another boundary.
He saved the best for the penultimate and ultimate deliveries of Anderson’s over, sending them over long-on for two towering sixes to tie Lara’s assault on Peterson.
Harbhajan Singh will not have fond memories of India’s tour to Pakistan in 2006. The hosts were motoring along 564 for the loss of four wickets with Afridi well-set at a run-a-ball 60.
It is reported that Afridi told the non-striker Kamran Akmal that he would attempt six sixes in Harbhajan’s next over to which his partner retorted with a simple ‘good luck’.
He was well on-course to fulfill his own prophecy when he sent the first four deliveries for mighty sixes.
The Indian off-spinner managed to salvage some pride by allowing Afridi only three of the last two deliveries to leave the maverick batsman nine runs short of his target.
Never the less, the 27 runs in the over are enough to put Afridi at the third spot in the list.
New Zealand’s Craig MacMillan set a then world record by scoring 26 runs in a Younis Khan over during Pakistan’s tour to the nation during 2001.
In the third Test, the Kiwis were in the mood for some quick runs in their first innings as they looked to declare. Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq threw the ball to part-time leg-spinner Khan to stem the flow of runs.
MacMillan though has other ideas as he carted the part-timer for five boundaries and a massive six to set a new record of 26 runs in an over.
He in fact sent the next delivery he faced from Saqlain Mushtaq for a six too before being dismissed two overs later.
Three years after setting the world record at Johannesburg, Lara was at it again during his side’s tour of Pakistan in 2006.
The left-handed genius scored a fine double-ton to help the West Indies post a huge 591 runs in their first innings but not before dismantling leg-spinner Danish Kaneria.
Lara hit three massive sixes and two boundaries in a Kaneria over to take 26 runs in the over.
In total, Lara hit 69 off the 29 deliveries he faced from the leg spinner but it was Kaneria who had the last laugh after dismissing the left-hander for a fine 216.
Honourable mentions to New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum and Australia’s Mitchell Johnson who have both scored 26 runs off an over in Test cricket too.
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.