Dhananjaya & Roshen defy India

The partisan crowd at the Kotla waited since the start of the morning session hoping to watch Sri Lanka collapse to their second successive defeat against India. Their expectations, however, remained unfulfilled as the visitors put up a brave fight to salvage a draw despite tight and methodical Indian bowling in the final Test.

By JAYDEEP BASU
  • Published 7.12.17
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Dhananjaya de Silva and Roshen Silva at the Kotla 
on Wednesday. (AFP)

New Delhi: The partisan crowd at the Kotla waited since the start of the morning session hoping to watch Sri Lanka collapse to their second successive defeat against India. Their expectations, however, remained unfulfilled as the visitors put up a brave fight to salvage a draw despite tight and methodical Indian bowling in the final Test.

The result, however, could not stop India from winning the three-Test series 1-0 on the strength of their innings victory in the second Test at Nagpur. It was the ninth straight series win for India. It was a double delight for skipper Virat Kohli, who was named the Man of the Match and the Man of the Series.

Going strictly by Wednesday's proceedings, the moral victors were Sri Lanka - to be more precise, the top-order batsman Dhananjaya de Silva. The 26-year-old scored the third Test century of his career (119 retired hurt) at the most appropriate time and frustrated the rival bowlers throughout his 219-ball stay at the wicket.

It was a heroic innings from De Silva despite a thigh injury that called for several on-field treatments. He fought grimly to deny India a possible win and hit 15 fours and one six.

But then, De Silva was not the only batsman to shine from the Sri Lankan side. Roshen Silva, playing his first Test, remained unbeaten on 74, which came off 154 balls with the help of 11 fours. Having failed to score any run in the first innings, the debutant was definitely under pressure but he stayed unfazed. With Niroshan Dickwella (44 not out), he put on 94 runs.

In the end, chasing a target of 410, Sri Lanka, overnight 31 for three, managed 299 for five when the match was called off after the eighth mandatory over.

During the whole day, India could take only two Sri Lankan wickets - the two first innings centurions, Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal. Mathews (1) was caught by Ajinkya Rahane in slip off Ravindra Jadeja. Later, the replay showed the delivery was a no-ball.

Wednesday remained unusually sunny compared to the haze and smog that dominated the first four days of the Test match. None of the players complained about pollution and the bowlers never had to call for medical attention. On occasions the Sri Lanka team physio rushed inside was to treat De Silva for his thigh injury.

Often he lied on the ground, grimaced in pain and once he crossed the three-figure mark, running between the wickets became increasingly difficult. Still, he displayed rock solid defence.

De Silva's strong point was his technique, especially against the spinners. He used his feet well and was never shy of going for the loose deliveries. He took an aggressive posture right from the word go and kept the scoreboard ticking. However, the pain was so unbearable that he walked off after the 76th over, 15 minutes before tea when the team total was 205 for five.

So tired was the batsman that he hardly had any energy left to acknowledge the cheers after he completed his century taking three runs off Mohammed Shami. Kohli was the first to congratulate him and the entire Sri Lankan team could be seen applauding him from the pavilion. De Silva smiled and briefly raised his bat and resumed the innings.

Barring once when Ravichandran Ashwin failed to hold on to a return catch offered by De Silva on 110, the batsman played a chanceless knock. He was involved in two big partnerships that held the Sri Lankan innings together.