Post lunch on the opening day of the final Test, Sri Lanka proved that they were capable of putting up a fight. India were six down on 329 at the end of day one, followed by an early wicket of Wriddhiman Saha, on day two. Soon later Kuldeep Yadav, who is replacing a suspended Ravindra Jadeja, fell on 26.
But Hardik Pandya’s dominance stayed, as the all-rounder scored a brisk century, his first in whites. He got to his ton in only 83 deliveries. The field that the hosts set up for the young batsman went awfully wrong, and Pandya made sure he capitalized on that.
At one stage, it looked like the visitors would not cross the 450 mark, but at lunch, India were 487-9. They accumulated 158 runs in the morning, courtesy Pandya’s 62-run partnership with Kuldeep, and a 66-run partnership with Umesh Yadav.
The stars of India’s day one batting were KL Rahul, who got to his seventh consecutive Test fifty, and Shikhar Dhawan, who scored a magnificent 119, his fifth ton in Tests, and second in the series.
Skipper Kohli fell on 42, while two of India’s batting mainstays in Tests, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane fell on peanuts – 8 and 17 runs respectively. Malinda Pushpakumara and Lakshan Sandakan shared seven wickets between them, the latter taking a four-wicket haul.
India have won the series 2-0 but would want to wrap up with a whitewash before they play five ODIs and a lone T20 in the coming weeks. This was Virat Kohli’s eighth consecutive series win, only one behind Ricky Ponting’s nine series wins on a trot. Under the 28-year-old, India have not lost a single series since the 2-0 drubbing on the tour of Australia in 2015. After that, they won series over Sri Lanka, South Africa, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka on a trot.
He had taken over from MS Dhoni as the Test skipper in 2014, after the wicketkeeper-batsman announced his retirement from the format. Kohli's record in this level is one of the best, and he may well break Ponting's record soon.