In spite of Dinesh Chandimal’s exploits on day three of the Galle Test, India would still have been relatively confident of victory on day four, as they needed a little over 150 runs with nine wickets in hand. But, a turning pitch and menacing Rangana Herath proved to be India’s undoing, as they folded up for 112, a good 63 runs short of the target. Herath razed through the Indian batting claiming seven for 48 in 21 overs, and Tharindu Kaushal chipped in with the other three, as India’s worst nightmare came true on Independence Day at Galle on Saturday.
Herath, who had been dropped during the Pakistan series, and who was hardly impressive in the first innings, lifted his game rather incredibly, and with it, also bowled Lanka to a magnificent come-from-behind win that India will find hard to digest. For their part, India demonstrated the lack of technique needed to survive on the pitch that was clearly turning square. Without doubt these were tough conditions to bat on, but India made the chase look impossible by trying to be overcautious. Yes, they couldn’t have attacked too much, but failure to find a balance also proved fatal.
Herath began his great work from the very start trapping nightwatchman Ishant Sharma lbw with the first ball he bowled. It was not the kind of nervy start India needed to the tricky chase. The decision to sent Rohit Sharma up the order was yet again a failure. He completely missed the line of the ball which pitched on middle and turned away. The ball went through his defense, and gave Herath his third wicket. The bigger blow for India came with the dismissal of skipper Virat Kohli, who tried to turn Tharindu Kaushal on the on side, and was caught at short leg.
At the other end, Dhawan, who was batting with bruised hand, tried to battle it out. But, after having hung around for 82 balls for his 28, he hit a half-volley from Kaushal straight back to the bowler, who accepted it gleefully. Wriddhiman Saha also fell to the guile of Herath. The 37-year-old drew him out of the crease with a flighted delivery, the ball bounced past him, and Chandimal, who had turned the game around on its head, effected the stumping.
Ajinkya Rahane was the only batsman who displayed the technique to play the spin well. But, at the other end, Harbhajan Singh fell playing a forward defense while Ravichandran Ashwin was caught at mid-on. Rahane managed to take India past the 100 mark, but he too fell, trying to play a forward defensive stroke, only for the ball to take the outside edge, and head into the safe hands of skipper Angelo Mathews. Kaushal completed the formalities by sending back Amit Mishra for 15, and Sri Lanka had completed one of the most stunning turnarounds in Test history.
-- By A Cricket Correspondent