JADEJA’S FIVE SEALS SERIES WIN FOR INDIA
Colombo, Sri Lanka - India wrapped up a series victory away from home in eight days of Test cricket. And it was only really challenged over the last two. The formalities were completed four minutes before tea with Ravindra Jadeja picking up his ninth five-for (5-152) in the same match he became the fastest left-armer to 150 wickets.
He was far from the only protagonist of an absorbing game in Colombo. There were backs-to-the-wall-and-nose-tothe-barrel hundreds from Kusal Mendis (110) and Dimuth Karunaratne (141), which will certainly give Sri Lanka hope for the future, but in the present it just wasn't enough.
And finally, a mention for the pitch, which made balls scoot and bounce and rag and slip into other dimensions and come back a pineapple.
The result of this Test - India's first innings win in Sri Lanka - was evident from the moment it racked up a total of 622 and enforced the follow-on.
Oppositions forced into this predicament need a bit of a hero and Karunaratne stepped up. He was in his element, of course. Four of his six Test hundreds have come in the second innings - and this will rank alongside the 152 he made in New Zealand in 2014, when an axe hung over his head.
Karunarante might not have got there had Lokesh Rahul held a relatively straightforward chance at short leg in the 90s, but mistakes such as those were rare, simply because he didn't want them happening. That determination made sure he concentrated harder, which in turn helped him play close to his body, and with a soft touch. It was only after batting three full sessions on this treacherous surface that he was dislodged.
Jadeja made one take off like a rocket. It lobbed off the glove and landed safely in Ajinkya Rahane's hands at slip. Karunaratne walked back after handshakes and pats on the back. There really was no shame in losing your wicket to a ball that behaved like the stuff of NASA'S dreams.
Such unplayable deliveries were expected of Jadeja the moment he was armed with monstrous scoreboard pres- sure. But he had to wait 23 overs to make his first strike. Eventually, Jadeja found his rhythm - his fitness allows for him to wait as long as needed - and Sri Lanka was done for.
Dinesh Chandimal (2) was nipped at slip. Angelo Mathews (36) was undone by extra bounce and a spectacular catch
by Wriddhiman Saha, taken somewhere around his shoulder while standing up to the stumps. Dilruwan Perera (4) premeditated a trip down the track and paid for it. And Dhananjaya de Silva (17) was taken by Rahane behind the wicket as he came forward to take a low chance. India's close-in fielders - barring familiar errors from Virat Kohli - was top class.
The victory meant India has won all eight of its most recent Test series. One more and it will equal the world record.
India’s Ravindra Jadeja (second from right) celebrates with teammates after dismissing Sri Lanka’s Dhananjaya de Silva on Sunday