R Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah bowled with a searing bite to bowl Sri Lanka out for 208 in their second innings on Day 3 of the second Test at Bengaluru, as India sealed a 238-run win.
On a treacherous pitch, only Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis showed a modicum of resistance as they cobbled up a 97-run partnership for the second wicket. But after Mendis was stumped for 54, wickets fell in a heap.
Karunaratne took advantage of two dropped catches – by Virat Kohli and Indian captain Rohit Sharma – and displayed fine application against spinners. He was particularly strong on the leg-side and played an array of flicks and sweeps to accumulate runs. His footwork against spinners was precise that stood him in good stead.
He flicked Bumrah through backward square leg to bring up his 14th Test hundred, but was soon cleaned up by the pacer. Among other batters, only wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella reached double digits, as others floundered abjectly against Ashwin and Bumrah.
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Bumrah bowled with tremendous gusto and skill as he snaffled 8 wickets in the match on a pitch which was tailor-made for spinners.
“I have worked hard on my batting. We have a good team, but the batting didn’t capitalise on these conditions,” Karunaratne said after the match. “The bowling was good, but we kept bowling loose deliveries every now and then and that’s what we need to work on going further,” he added.
Earlier, propelled by Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant, India had scored 252 and 303-9 respectively in their first and second innings. In both the innings, Iyer pulled the team out of trouble by taking Sri Lankan bowlers, especially spinners, to the cleaners. He was adjudged Man of the Match for his twin fifties (92 and 67).
“That wasn’t my normal approach, but I saw the batters struggling, so I knew I had to be attacking and put the pressure back on the bowlers. I was batting on 55 when the bowlers came in, and then I added around 40 more runs. I could have got out earlier as well, so I didn’t worry about the hundred,” he told reporters after the match.
“I just wanted to bat as many balls as possible (in the second innings), as I knew that I had some support down the order with Shami and Bumrah. I have always dreamt about playing Test cricket for India, good feeling to come and contribute, I want to keep this going,” he added.
Pant was declared Man of the Series for consistently changing the course of both the matches in the series. “I’ll do whatever the team management wants me to do (on batting at number five). I think it’s more about confidence. Previously, I used to think too much, now I’m only focusing on every ball (referring to his improved keeping skills),” he stated.
This is India’s 15th consecutive Test series victory at home. No other team has won more than 10 consecutive Test series at home. The hosts had won the first Test at Mohali by an innings and 222 runs.