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Ashwin spins India to series-levelling win
August 24, 2015, 11:37 am
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While India succumbed to Rangana Herath's spin at Galle, here in Colombo it was Sri Lanka's turn to fall prey to a similar collapse. Leading the way was Ravichandran Ashwin, whose 12th five-wicket-haul hampered Sri Lanka's ambitions of escaping the Colombo Test with a draw and gave India a big 278-run win to level the three-match series 1-1.

Ashwin's 5 for 42 helped India pick up eight wickets for 62 runs in the morning session. His efforts were backed by Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Amit Mishra, who also chipped away with wickets. India could have wind things up before lunch, but a brief spell of rain, barely 10 minutes before lunch, delayed them the win. Thereafter, Amit Mishra took seven balls before Sri Lanka were shot out for 134.

With this win, Virat Kohli has opened his account as India's Test captain. It's also their first since Lord's 2014. 

There was to be no fairytale ending to Kumar Sangakkara's international career. India were easily the superior side - their batsmen putting up a total above 300 in both the innings, backed equally well by the bowlers in the second. The highest fourth-innings total at the P Sara Oval is 352, and Sri Lanka, resuming on 72 for 2 on the final day, required a monumental effort from their skipper and first-innings centurion Angelo Mathews to carry forward the good work. But a nick induced by Umesh off the first delivery thwarted any such hopes. 

One would have to imagine that the first ball set the tone for the remainder of the day. Kohli's decision of handing the ball to Umesh was a wonderful move - after all, he had troubled Mathews in the first innings once the ball had started to reverse. His dismissal triggered a collapse of sorts as the next six batsmen went inside 20 overs, and with Mishra and Ishant snaring Dinesh Chandimal and Jehan Mubarak, the platform was set for Ashwin's offspin to wrap up the proceedings. 

This was Ashwin's second five-wicket-haul against Sri Lanka. The amount of turn Mishra generated with the dismissal of Chandimal - bowled around his legs, immediately prompted Kohli to turn to his leading spinner. Ashwin first removed Thirimanne thanks to a sharp catch from substitute fielder Cheteshwar Pujara at forward short-leg, and later got the better of Dhammika Prasad and Dimuth Karunaratne. 

For Sri Lanka, only Karunaratne provided little resistance with 46. Expectedly, he was once again troubled by Ashwin, but knew he had to get a move on with wickets falling at the other end. With a four each off Ishant and Ashwin, he succeeded to a certain extent before misreading an arm ball from Ashwin that bowled him off his pads. 

Mishra then picked up the bones with a couple of googlies that foxed Tharindu Kaushal and Dushmantha Chameera - Sri Lanka's last two batsmen - an over each before and after lunch.

Brief Score: Sri Lanka 134 all out (Karunaratne 46; Ashwin 5/42) and 306 lost to India India (393 and 325/8 decl) by 278 runs.

Source: Times of India 

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