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India levels series in Sangakkara finale

Sri Lanka is bowled out for 134 early on fifth day, with Ashwin's five handing visiting side 278-run win in second Test

India levels series in Sangakkara finale - Cricket News
Kohli tasted his first Test win as skipper, ruining Kumar Sangakkara’s last hurrah in international cricket.
In the first Test in Galle, Sri Lanka escaped from near-certain defeat to one of its more famous home victories. At the conclusion of the fourth day’s proceedings at the P Sara Oval, there was to be no second strike of lightning in the same series, Kohli tasting his first Test win as skipper and ruining Kumar Sangakkara’s last hurrah in international cricket.
 
At 72 for 2 overnight upon being set 413 for a remarkable, series-clinching victory, Sri Lanka needed to bat out of its skins on the final day on Monday (August 24). Scaling the target down looked very difficult, but a slightly more realistic prospect was batting out time in arguably difficult conditions, with the pitch playing a few tricks even if it had slowed up considerably.
 
In the event, Sri Lanka was unable to do that as it was bowled out for 134. R Ashwin’s third consecutive five-for in an away Test muscled India to a commanding 278-run win, leaving the teams with all to play for in the final Test beginning at the SSC ground on August 28. Ashwin’s tally of 17 wickets from two Tests means he already has more wickets in a Test series in Sri Lanka than any other India player – and there still is one game to go. It was India’s first victory since the 95-run defeat of England at Lord’s in July 2014, ending a run of nine winless Tests.
 
Sri Lanka’s designs of making a match of it were dented off the very first delivery of the final morning when KL Rahul took a spectacular catch to send Angelo Mathews packing. The Sri Lanka captain has easily been his side’s most impressive batsman of the series, Dinesh Chandimal’s out-of-the-world heroics in Galle notwithstanding, and carried his team’s hopes. But hardly had the spectators settled down than Umesh Yadav produced the telling strike.
 
The India players believe Mathews is susceptible to the slightly widish delivery outside off. Yadav hit his straps straightaway, a lovely delivery that moved away after pitching in the corridor. Mathews’s bat was drawn magnetically towards the ball, and after the outside edge was found, Rahul took off, throwing his right mitt out to complete a brilliant catch that would have done even the most accomplished of glovesmen proud.
 
Rahul wasn’t just very good standing back, he was also excellent while keeping to Ashwin and Amit Mishra, principal players as the morning unfolded. Mathews’s dismissal was a big blow for Sri Lanka; coming as early as it did in the piece, it lifted India's spirits even as dark, foreboding clouds gathered ominously overhead.
 


India’s pressure was relentless, and Sri Lanka was caught betwixt and between. Just hanging back and trying to defend was fraught with danger, but trying to be too positive wasn’t a very prudent option either unless shot selection was impeccable.
 
Given the mountain of runs India had at its disposal, Kohli could attack with a rash of close catchers if he so desired. But for the second innings in a row, the skipper didn’t overdo the attacking. 
 
If Yadav had struck with his first delivery of the day, then Mishra did with his second, a peachy legbreak that drifted into and past Chandimal’s leg-stump, and then turned back sharply to defeat the right-hand batsman’s sweep and bowl him behind his pads. It wasn’t too dissimilar to the delivery he had produced in the first innings to get rid of the left-handed Mubarak.
 
Dimuth Karunaratne soldiered on, scoring just seven runs in 28 deliveries in the first hour, but he was fighting a solitary, losing battle. By now, Ashwin was in the middle of another wonderful spell. His control has been exemplary all series, and he has been quick to work out what is the best pace to bowl at different stages of the game. Giving the ball optimal hang-time, he befuddled Sri Lankan more with the conventional off-break than any great variation.
 
His first wicket of the day was courtesy an outstanding catch at silly-point by Cheteshwar Pujara, one of two substitutes on the field. Lahiru Thirimanne, batting at No. 6, danced down the track to work Ashwin to leg, but the ball dipped and turned to catch the leading edge. Pujara, holding his pose, took a sharp catch to his right off wrist and armpit.
 
Ashwin went on to clean up Dhammika Prasad, who offered a catch to mid-on, and the stodgy Karunaratne, bowled off inside-edge and pad after nearly three hours of stubborn resistance as he went back to a delivery that hastened in to him on pitching.
 
In the interim, Ishant Sharma induced the outside edge of Jehan Mubarak that was gobbled up smartly low at second slip by Kohli.
 
Kohli kept swapping his bowlers around – Ashwin’s 6-1-15-3 was the longest spell anyone got on the day – and every move worked brilliantly. Mishra, taken off one over after getting rid of Chandimal, returned to trap Tharindu Kaushal plumb in front with a googly. Nine down, the end appeared imminent until rain forced an early lunch with Sri Lanka on 130 for 9. On resumption, it was all over in three minutes and seven deliveries as Mishra trapped Dushmantha Chameera, not offering a shot, in front with a googly.

 

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