India pulled off an innings and 171-run win in the third and final Test match against Sri Lanka at Pallekelle. The relatively new look young Sri Lankan outfit that took on the strong Indians, who are the No.1 Test team in world cricket, made 181 on the follow on with wicket-keeper batsman Niroshan Dickwella top scoring with 41off 52 balls inclusive of five boundaries. Last man Lahiru Kumara was bowled by Ashwin for 10 a few minutes before tea.
Sri Lanka, resuming on 19 for 1 wicket trailing by 333 runs with overnight batsmen Dimuth Karunaratne on 12, and night watchman Malinda Pushpakumara, had to cope with the tight spin-pace bowling of R. Aswin and Mohammed Shami. Karunaratne, the home team second innings centurion in the second test match, was caught by Rahane bowled Ashwin for 16 off 48 balls inclusive of three boundaries. When he departed the total was 25. Pushpakumara was out for 01 off 31 balls with the total on 34. Kusal Mendis was trapped LBW for 12 by Mohammed Shami, and it brought the most experienced pair of Chandimal and Mathews together.
Skipper Chandimal and Angelo Mathews’ did wage a rearguard battle to revive the innings after Sri Lanka lost three early wickets and the total read 39 for 4. The 65-run sixth wicket partnership between Chandimal and Mathews lifted Sri Lankan spirits briefly before Chandimal was dismissed for 36 off 89 balls by Kuldip Yadav with the total on 104. The skipper struck five boundaries.
When Mathews looked to be shaping up well he played and missed a sharp delivery from Aswin and was ruled out LBW 14 runs after Chandimal’s departure. He made 35 off 96 balls and his two boundaries and lusty six.
Next man in Niroshan Dickwella did wage a more or less lone battleto top score with 41off 52 balls inclusive of five boundaries. He added 18 runs with Dilruwan Perera for the seventh wicket before Perera was caught by Pandya off Ashwin for 8. Dickwella displayed gall in the circumstances given the limited exposure in big stage cricket putting on 28 for the eighth wicket with Lakshan Sandakan who made 8. Dickwella was ninth out with the total on 168 caught by Rahane off U. Yadav before last man Lahiru Kumara was bowled by Ashwin for 10.
Ashwin claimed 4 wickets for 64 followed by Mohammed Shami 3 for 32, and U.T. Yadav 2 for 21. Man of the Match was Harthik Pandya for his century down the batting order at No.8, and Man of the Series Sikhar Dhawan for his two big tons.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-