Ravichandran Ashwin helps India level Sri Lanka series

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R Ashwin removed Kumar Sangakkara four times out of four in the series.

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin caused a dramatic Sri Lanka collapse as India completed a crushing 278-run victory in the second Test in Colombo on Monday to level the three-match series.

Ashwin grabbed five for 42 as Sri Lanka, set an improbable victory target of 413 runs, were shot out for 134 in their second innings soon after lunch on the fifth day at the P. Sara Oval.

Leg-spinner Amit Mishra chipped in with three wickets as the hosts lost their last eight batsmen for 62 runs after resuming at 72-2, giving Virat Kohli his first win as captain in his fifth Test as leader.

A brief spell of heavy rain forced an early lunch with nine wickets down, but the weather cleared for India to finish the match in the second over after resumption.

The defeat denied retiring Sri Lankan great Kumar Sangakkara a fairytale farewell in his last international match. The left-hander was dismissed for 18 on Sunday.

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India’s emphatic win set the stage for an intriguing finale to the series when the third and final Test starts at the Sinhalese sports club in the Sri Lankan capital on Friday. 

Opener Dimuth Karunaratne made 46, but six batsmen failed to reach double figures as Sri Lanka were bowled out in 43.4 overs. 

Ashwin finished with a match-haul of seven wickets to add to the 10 he took in the first Test in Galle where Sri Lanka fought back from the brink to win by 63 runs.

Sri Lanka lost captain Angelo Mathews off the first ball of the day, edging fast bowler Umesh Yadav to stand-in wicketkeeper Lokesh Rahul, who dived to his right to hold a low catch.

First Test hero Dinesh Chandimal began by hooking seamer Ishant Sharma for a six, before he was bowled round his legs by Mishra for 15 to reduce the hosts to 91-4.

It soon became 111-6 as India grabbed two more wickets in the space of five deliveries. Ashwin had Lahiru Thirimanne snapped up at silly point by substitute fielder Cheteshwar Pujara, and in the next over Ishant Sharma forced Jehan Mubarak to edge a catch to second slip.

The procession back to the pavilion continued when Dhammika Prasad attempted to loft Ashwin out of the ground, but only managed to top-edge a catch to Mishra at mid-on.

Sri Lanka’s last recognised batsman Karunaratne was bowled by Ashwin before lunch and Mishra sealed the win by trapping both Tharindu Kaushal and Dushmantha Chameera leg-before on either side of the break.

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Murali Vijay and Wriddhiman Saha out of Sri Lanka test series for India

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Hamstring trouble: Wriddhiman Saha.

India’s opening batsman Murali Vijay and wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha will miss the rest of the Sri Lanka Test series due to hamstring injuries, the team management said yesterday.

Uncapped young opener Karun Nair will replace Vijay, and Naman Ojha, who is also yet to play a Test, will come in for Saha ahead of the third and final Test in Colombo from August 28.

Vijay, who missed the first Test in Galle due to a hamstring niggle, aggravated the same injury after being picked for the ongoing second Test in Colombo where he made 0 and 82.

“Vijay has sustained mild re-occurrence on a pre-existing injury in his right hamstring and will need further training to recover completely,” a team statement said.

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Saha suffered a strain in his right hamstring while batting in India’s second innings yesterday and did not take the field when Sri Lanka batted, leaving Lokesh Rahul to keep wickets. However, in a perplexing decision, Saha had been asked to bat again late in the second innings after going off the field due to the injury. Saha hit half-centuries in each of the first two Tests.

Nair, a 23-year-old from Karnataka, scored a match-saving 114 not out for India ‘A’ in an unofficial Test against South Africa ‘A’ last week.

Nair came into limelight in the 2013-14 domestic season, hitting centuries in three straight Ranji Trophy matches, including the quarter and semi-finals.

In the next season, he remained subdued before grabbing the headlines by smashing a triple-century for his team in the Ranji Trophy final against Tamil Nadu.

Ojha, 32, played a solitary one-day international and two Twenty20 matches during India’s limited-overs tour of Zimbabwe in July. He was also called up as reserve wicket-keeper on India’s tours of England and Australia last year.

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Kumar Sangakkara draws curtains on great Sri Lanka batting career

Kuldip Lal 24/08/2015
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Final take: Kumar Sangakkara.

Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara was dismissed for 18 in his final international innings, ending a remarkable 15-year career during the second Test against India in Colombo.

A full house of around 7,000 was in attendance at the picturesque P. Sara Oval to watch the fifth-highest run-getter in Test history play for the last time.

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Sangakkara did not have to wait long in the dressing room after the hosts lost opener Kaushal Silva in the third over of the chase.

The crowd applauded warmly as Sangakkara was welcomed to the crease by two guards of honour – one formed by young children with raised bats near the boundary and another by Indian fielders.

The left-hander began fluently, hitting three boundaries but fell to his nemesis Ravichandran Ashwin.

The Indian fielders shook hands with Sangakkara as he walked off for one last time to a standing ovation from the crowd.

Sangakkara wrote on his Twitter feed:

Thank you for all the love. Been my privilege to play for my country and in front of all the fans.

— Kumar Sangakkara (@KumarSanga2) August 23, 2015

Sangakkara finished with 12,400 runs from 134 Tests at an average of 57.40.

He scored 38 centuries, including a best of 319 against Bangladesh in Chittagong last year.

Sangakkara follows Sachin Tendulkar of India, Ricky Ponting of Australia, Jacques Kallis of South Africa and Rahul Dravid of India in the all-time list of leading Test scorers. 

Tendulkar, who retired in 2013, tweeted:

Well played @KumarSanga2. You have been a terrific ambassador for the game & a thorough gentleman. Warm welcome to the club of the Retired!

— sachin tendulkar (@sachin_rt) August 23, 2015

Former team-mate Mahela Jayawardene, with whom Sangakkara shared a world record partnership of 624 against South Africa in 2006, said he was proud of his close friend’s achievements.

“It wasn’t to be in this match but what he was for Sri Lanka cricket is something that you can’t take away. Very proud of you mate,” Jayawardene wrote.

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