After 4 years and countless ODIs between the sub-continent giants, India and Sri Lanka met at Galle for a three test match series commencing on the 12th of August. The series was an emotional one for true Sri Lankan fans it was the last time that Kumar Sangakkara would be involved in any form of cricket for the country.
For India, it was a start of a new era under the newly appointed skipper Virat Kohli and his young guns. For Sri Lanka, it was a matter of pride to provide Sanga the perfect send off. The visitors started well on the first day of the first test after Ashwin’s 6 for destroyed Sri Lanka. But the team could not hold onto a huge first innings lead and let the hosts recover from that position to give India a target of 176.
Though the target was not huge, a magical spell from Ranganna Herath saw India crumble on the last day of the test match. They were all out for 112 runs and provided Sri Lanka a 63 run improbable victory. The comeback by the home team raised a lot of doubts on the captaincy of Virat Kohli but the spirited skipper came back strongly in the next game.
A gritty batting performance from KL Rahul and Kohli took India’s score to 393 after winning the toss. Sri Lanka were not far behind as they scored 306 runs in reply in their first innings. Ajinkya Rahane played a crucial knock in the second innings and lifted India’s score to 325 to give the hosts a target of 413 on a deteriorating 4th and 5th day track.
Ashwin once again proved unplayable on the last day at the P Sara Stadium in Colombo. He picked yet another 6 for to destroy the Lankan batting line up and gave India a historic 278 run victory. This was the first victory for the new test captain of India who was all smiles after the game. KL Rahul’s century on the first day earned him the man of the match for this game. The series was poised at 1-1 and both teams were equal favorites to run away with the series.
The 3rd game was played at the SSC in Colombo and this was the first game for Sri Lanka without the services of Kumar Sangakkara who announced his retirement after the second game. India won the toss and batted first with another opening partnership after suffering injuries to their key players. In this innings, Pujara showed his class and temperament as he carried his bat through to stay not out on 145 as he ran out of partners with India on 312.
The pitch was lively and scoring was not easy but a bit of technique and patience will always be rewarded as shown by Pujara. But Lanka looked brittle with the middle order lacking any stability. Ishanth Sharma who bowled beautifully picked a five wicket haul to rattle Sri Lanka to 201 all out. They were 47-6 at one stage but managed to reach 201 thanks to a partnership between Herath (49) and Perera (55). India batted again and were troubled throughout the innings by some good bowling.
They however were already in front in the game and after the 2nd innings, were able to set a target of 386 for the hosts to chase. Lanka managed to hold on till the last day but even a century from their skipper Angelo Mathews did not save the game as the Indians ran away with the CricBuzz series away from home. Ravichandran Aswin who showed his guile and troubled the Sri Lankan batsmen throughout the series and picked up 21 wickets was awarded the man of the series. This was the first series victory away from home for India in over 3 years and the first one for the new skipper Virat Kohli.
Though there has been increased criticism of an overkill of matches between the two teams, the series was a very good advertisement for test cricket. Both teams had to fight till the end and the talent in both squads made for a very good watching. However, the series will be remembered for being the last for Kumar Sangakkara who will always be respected around the world for his achievements in the world of cricket.