The Zing is intact – Ahmedabad Mirror

Posted: July 30, 2017 at 2:32 pm

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For perhaps the first time in the opening match of an away Test series, several things went Indias way. First, the coin flipped Virat Kohlis way and India had the chance to bat first on a flat track. Sri Lanka were then dealt a nasty blow when all-rounder Asela Gunaratne fractured a thumb on the first morning and could take no further part in the match. The strength of the home side was reduced again on the fourth day when spinner and stand-in captain, Rangana Herath, injured a finger on his delivery hand and didnt bowl for a major part of Indias second innings.

Those incidents, aided of course with a near-immaculate performance from the visitors, saw Sri Lanka capsize to a rather meek 304-run loss inside four day. India had left Sri Lanka with a 550-run target after declaring their second innings closed at 240/3. In reply, the home side managed just 245 that too largely due to a brilliant personal performance by Dimuth Karunaratne (97) and his sixth-wicket partnership of 101 runs with Niroshan Dickwella (67). In the morning, Kohli helped himself to his 17th Test hundred and 10th as captain.

Probably, the only real challenge that the Indian team faced thereafter was a dead track. But once again, as they did in their last domestic season, the bowling unit exerted constant pressure. The fast bowlers, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav, secured early breakthroughs, and the spinners, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, demolished the lower order in quick time. The win comes following a rather messy coach selection process where if one is to believe the grapevine all the players wanted Anil Kumble sacked, Ravi Shastri back in the saddle. In a footnote, Virender Sehwag was rejected by the skipper as the Delhi dasher wanted his own support staff.

Just another Test match Kolhi, however, indicated that that affair was no longer relevant. Asked if a win like this helped to calm nerves, if any, he said: I think its another Test match for us, Kohli answered. The nerves being built up or the panic being created was all on the outside. Inside the change room, the atmosphere is absolutely same. We have just done what weve done in the past two years on a consistent basis. And weve just gone out there and focused on the game.

Thats all you think of doing and thats all that we are going to do in the future. That begs two questions: If everything is the same as it was in the last two years, then why was Shastri removed in 2016, and why did he replace Kumble in 2017? Answers can wait though, so lets return to the Galle Test and the huge win. India began the day at 189-3 with Kohli batting on 76. He hit Danushka Gunathilaka for a six to reach 89 and looked in no hurry as he scored the remaining 11 runs he needed to reach the three-figure mark in singles and twos.

He got there off 133 balls, with five boundaries and a six studding his innings. A key part of the innings was that he took 42 singles, 16 twos and a three on a wicket where finding the boundaries was difficult. Sri Lankas chase was a non-starter. They lost Upul Tharanga and Gunathilaka with just 29 on board. The Karunaratne- Dickwella partnership only delayed their demise. India ticked all the right boxes. The openers scored, the middle-order amassed runs, the fast bowlers picked early wickets, and the spinners found ways to snare wickets on a flat track. As Kohli said, Yeah, we would like to think so.

There are still some areas that we want to look at and try to improve upon; especially when you get four-five wickets and not letting the lower order to get away with the few runs in the latter half of the innings. Its something that we can still identify and work on in the next two games. But all in all, I think, playing Test cricket February is the last when we last played Test cricket and from then having played so much one-day cricket and not having the time to prepare so much in between, I think from that point of view it was good to get back into the groove and do things that are supposed to be done to win a Test match. There is always room for improvement. But as far as this series goes, Indian can afford not to improve. It is the Lankans who will have to entirely transform themselves if they are to take the fight to this Indian team.

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The Zing is intact - Ahmedabad Mirror

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July 30th, 2017 at 2:32 pm