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Ashwin takes six to skittle out Lanka for 183

PTI Galle | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on August 12, 2015
Ravichandran Ashwin appeals for an unsuccessful wicket of Sri Lanka Dinesh Chandimal (not pictured) during the first day of their first test cricket match in Galle.

Ravichandran Ashwin appeals for an unsuccessful wicket of Sri Lanka Dinesh Chandimal (not pictured) during the first day of their first test cricket match in Galle.   -  Reuters

India's Test captain Virat Kohli (R) shakes hands with Sri Lanka's cricket captain Angelo Mathews during a news conference ahead of their test cricket series. File Photo   -  Reuters

Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin spun a web around the batsman as he grabbed six wickets to record his best figures outside India to help the visitors skittle out Sri Lanka for a modest 183 at tea on Day 1 of the first Test here today.

Electing to bat on a day Galle International Stadium wicket, Sri Lanka suffered from lack of partnerships as skipper Angelo Mathews top-scored with a fighting 64. Dinesh Chandimal (59 runs, 77 balls, 9 fours) was the only other batsman to cross the 25-run mark.

Starting from 65 for five after lunch, Mathews and Chandimal (5 not out) stitched up a 79-run sixth-wicket partnership to stem the rot.

The duo though was helped in this endeavour by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, who dropped Chandimal in the second over after resumption of play. In the 25th over, Ishant Sharma (1-30) induced an edge from Chandimal, on 5, and it should have been a regulation catch, but Saha spilled it.

Ashwin (6-46) then bowled only two overs in the first hour of play, inexplicably, while Harbhajan Singh (0-17) bowled a long spell, with either Ishant or Varun Aaron (1-68) giving him company from the other end.

While the off-spinner kept things tight, he bowled a tad shorter than Ashwin and wasn’t able to get as much turn. The batsmen used their feet well against him and weren’t in much difficult as compared to facing Ashwin, who made them push and prod with his probing lengths.

Mathews, playing with a ligament tear in his left wrist, then reached his 22nd Test fifty off 77 balls in the 38th over, and also brought up the 50-partnership with Chandimal subsequently. At drinks, they were placed at 118 for five and when play resumed, skipper Virat Kohli brought Ashwin back into the attack.

The partnership was broken in the 42nd over then, with Mathews caught off Ashwin as the ball lobbed off his bat-pad and Rohit Sharma completed a stunning one-handed catch on second attempt at forward short leg.

Dhammika Prasad (0) then lasted only six deliveries and was trapped LBW by Ashwin, as he completed his maiden five-wicket haul in Sri Lanka. He also improved on his previous best outside India, 5-87 against Bangladesh in June.

Amit Mishra (2-20) then came into the attack and struck twice in two balls, in the 49th over. Ashwin then bowled Rangana Herath (23 runs, 24 balls, 4 fours) to complete the rout just before tea.

Earlier, Ishant and Aaron started proceedings as the Lankan openers, Dimuth Karunaratne (9) and Kaushal Silva (5), made a slow start. Kaushal got an early reprieve too, on 4, as Shikhar Dhawan dropped a simple chance at first slip in the fourth over bowled by Aaron.

Ishant improved on his line and came round-the-wicket to the left-hander. And it worked, as Karunaratne lobbed a short delivery straight to Rahane at gully in the 7th over. Two balls later, in the 8th over, Aaron got one to bounce and Silva fended it off awkwardly as Dhawan made amends and held on for a diving catch behind the cordon.

Lahiru Thirimanne (13) had walked in to bat at number three, but it didn’t matter as Kumar Sangakkara (5) joined him in the middle soon enough. They fended off the fast bowlers with relative ease, although they were beaten outside the off-stump on a couple of occasions.

The turning point of the session came when Ashwin was introduced into the attack, and he bowled a nagging line straightaway using the first-day dry wicket to full effect.

Sangakkara was the first to go, in the 12th over, hitting the ball straight to Lokesh Rahul at silly point as the youngster made the catch look easier than it was. Mathews (26*, 30 balls, 2 fours) then walked out to bat in his 50th Test with the score reading 27/3, but calmly went about his business to add 27 runs for the fourth wicket with Thirimanne.

The Lankan 50-run mark came up in the 18th over and it looked that the two batsmen had tided over the storm.

Just two overs later though, Ashwin triggered a proper off-spinner’s dismissal, inducing Thirimanne’s edge and Rahane gleefully accepted the catch at first slip.

With lunch on the horizon, new batsman Jehan Mubarak (0) started off watchfully but Ashwin was in full attack mode with two close-in fielders along with a slip in place. He came round-the-wicket to the left-hander and it worked to his benefit. Mubarak lobbed a catch to forward short leg and Rahul pouched his second catch, leaving the Lankan innings in complete tatters at the lunch break.

The hosts made two changes from their last Test against Pakistan, with Kumar Sangakkara coming in for Upul Tharanga and Rangana Herath for Suranga Lakmal. India went in with five bowlers, opting to play all three spinners in the eleven.

Published on August 12, 2015
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