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At the double over Sri Lanka

Mace in India #7: At the double over Sri Lanka

India: Reign at the top

India made a habit of recording innings wins, and equalled the record for their highest margin of victory.

Australia had provided India their sternest test in their bumper 13-match home Test series, but a few months later, in July, India made the short trip down to Sri Lanka, where they came across a team that just didn’t match up to them. They won the series 3-0. Sri Lanka then travelled back to India later in the year, and even though they posed more of a resistance, they still lost the three-match series 1-0.

It wasn’t too surprising though, given that India were widely acknowledged as the most dominant force in cricket, especially in home or home-like conditions, while Sri Lanka were in transition.

What was noteworthy, however, was the margins of the victories – over the course of the two series, India had three innings wins, each bigger than the other. So much that their 304-run victory in the first Test in Galle – where Shikhar Dhawan scored a 190 on his comeback to the Test side – was their smallest.

India won the second Test in Colombo by an innings and 53 runs, with Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane scoring centuries to help post 622/9 declared in the first innings, before Ravindra Jadeja picked up seven wickets over two innings to restrict Sri Lanka to 183 and 386.

Hardik Pandya hit his maiden Test century against Sri Lanka in Pallekele
Hardik Pandya hit his maiden Test century against Sri Lanka in Pallekele

The win in Pallekele was even bigger, by an innings and 171 runs, and that too despite India posting just 487 – Dhawan (119) and Hardik Pandya (108) scored centuries – in their only innings. That had a lot to do with the bowlers. Sri Lanka were bundled out for 135 and 181, with Kuldeep Yadav, the left-arm wrist-spinner, and Ravichandran Ashwin, the off-spinner, picking up four wickets apiece in each innings.

The series was wrapped up in 11 days.

The corresponding series in November and December in India went on for 14 days, Sri Lanka putting up a much-improved showing. In the first Test in Kolkata, on a lively pitch almost as green as the outfield, Sri Lanka exacted some semblance of revenge, bundling India out for 172 before posting 294 in the first innings. However, Virat Kohli scored a century in the second innings as India recovered to post 352/8, and with Sri Lanka somehow holding on at 75/7 in the final innings, the match was drawn.

Shikhar Dhawan scored his career-best 190 on his comeback to the Test side in Galle
Shikhar Dhawan scored his career-best 190 on his comeback to the Test side in Galle

It was back to business for India in the second Test in Nagpur. Ashwin and Jadeja took seven wickets between them as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 205, before Murali Vijay (128), Pujara (143), Kohli (213) and Rohit Sharma (102*) scored in three figures to help India post 610/6 declared.

Sri Lanka were then restricted to just 166, with Ashwin once again picking up four wickets, as India won by a mammoth innings and 239 runs – it equalled their record for the biggest victory margin, set against Bangladesh in 2007.

Sri Lanka recovered somewhat in the final Test in Delhi, fighting for a draw, despite India dominating with scores of 536/7 and 246/5 in the two innings.

It meant India won the series only 1-0 – or 4-0 for the season.

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