India completed their first 3-0 away whitewash in Sri Lanka in the recently concluded Test series. Lankan cricket surrendered in all three matches without any resistance and looked like a shadow of their glorious past.
The hosts put up one of their worst performances in all departments. In the first Test at Galle, Sri Lanka lost by 304 runs, the second Test at Colombo by an innings and 53 runs and the last Test by an innings and 171 runs at Pallekele.
This was Sri Lanka’s first whitewash at home in a three-match Test series since losing to Australia in 2004 and the 7th time in the history of Tests that a home team has been whitewashed at home in a 3-match series.
After the Test series, India’s win tally reached record nine in 24 matches on Sri Lankan soil, most by any visiting team, surpassing Pakistan’s eight wins in the same number of Tests.
Since the retirement of Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Tilikaratne Dilshan, Muttiah Muralitharan, and Lasith Malinga, Sri Lankan cricket team has looked an ordinary side which doesn’t have the ability to beat any top team.
The former world champions don’t have players to replace Jayawardene, Sangakkara and other senior players. The management never emphasises grooming new talent due to which the islanders have now become a soft target for other teams.
Sri Lankan skipper Dinesh Chandimal admitted that it was his worst ever series. “No doubt, this was my toughest series in eight years playing international cricket,” the dejected captain said.
“The reason is that we were not able to take the games to five days due to inexperience. The first two were four-day Tests, while the third ended on day three. Since I’ve been in this team, this is the worst series loss I’ve experienced,” he said and apologised to the nation for the team’s dismal performance.
Captain Angelo Mathews had stepped down after an ODI series loss to Zimbabwe last month.
Key bowlers’ injury was also one of the causes of Sri Lankans’ defeats. Lakmal had been ruled out before the first Test, Pradeep only played one game, and Asela Gunaratne and Dushmantha Chameera were also ruled out with stress fractures.
On the batting side, top and middle order failed to tackle Indian bowling; even veteran batsmen Upul Tharanga and Angelo Mathews hit only one half-century each in six innings. Skipper Chandimal himself failed to hit even a fifty and managed an average of 24 in four innings with a high score of 48.
On the other hand, Indian captain Virat Kohli was delighted with his team’s performance. “We are more like a bunch of friends playing together rather than a senior or a junior. You can joke around with anyone inside the group, and that I feel is something that makes me feel proud of this particular unit,” he said.
During the Test series, Indian batting showed its power, scoring 1949 runs in four innings at an average of 60.90 per wicket. Sri Lanka managed 1421 in six innings at an average of just 24.92.
The Sri Lankan spinners were on the receiving end as they conceded 67.38 for each Indian wicket, while experienced Indian spinners took wickets at an average of 26.
The pacers did not take many wickets in the series but Indian fast bowlers’ average of 24.35 was much better than the hosts’ pacers’ 53.84.
India’s lowest completed innings total was 487, while Sri Lanka’s highest total was 386. Five Indian batsmen scored seven centuries in the series, while only two Sri Lankan batsmen scored hundreds.
During the Test series, Indian opener Kannur Lokesh Rahul scored his seventh consecutive fifty. He is the sixth batsman after Everton Weekes, Andy Flower, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kumar Sangakkara and Chris Rogers to score six or more consecutive fifty-plus scores. Interestingly, Rahul is the second batsman after Rogers not to have converted any of the seven fifties into a hundred.
Shikhar Dhawan was the most successful batsman of the series with 358 runs in four innings, including two centuries at an average of 89.50. Dimuth Karunaratne was the top run-getter for Sri Lanka with 285, averaging 47.50 with one hundred and one fifty.
Ravichandran Ashwin took 17 wickets at an average of 25.88, Jadeja captured 13 and Shami grabbed 10. For Sri Lanka, Nawan Pradeep was the most successful bowler with six wickets, averaging 43.
Sri Lankan cricket team will face Pakistan in the UAE next month. The confident Green-shirts have a very good chance to win the series and improve their Test team ranking.