After playing limited-overs cricket heavily for four months since the last Test series against Australia in March, Virat Kohli would not have expected a more clinical performance from his team as India registered its biggest away win in terms of runs, thrashing Sri Lanka by 304 runs in the first Test at Galle to take 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Right from the batsmen making merry on a flat deck to bowlers displaying their quality on an unfavourable track, the world number Test team gave a brilliant performance throughout the match.
Armed with a massive 309 run lead from the first innings, Abhinav Mukund and Virat Kohli batted India to a position of strength. Mukund was dismissed after scoring 81 but Kohli roared back to form by scoring an unbeaten 103 to help India declare on 240 for 3, setting a massive target of 550.
In reply, Sri Lanka never looked in contention and were restricted to 245 with Asela Gunaratne and Rangana Herath unable to come out to bat due to injuries. Dimuth Karunaratne, who top-scored with 97, and Niroshan Dickwella provided the only resistance by sharing 101 runs for the fifth wicket to raise hopes of a fightback but once the latter was sent back by R Ashwin, the remaining batsmen fell like a pack of cards as Sri Lanka suffered its biggest loss in term of runs.
Speaking after the game, Kohli recalled the Galle Test of 2015 when India had gone on to lose the match from a winning position and expressed his delight over a more experienced performance.
“Last time (2015) we should have won and it was really denting as far as our confidence is concerned. But, this time around it was a very clinical performance. We are a more experienced side now and that’s what is showing in the field. Really happy with the way things have gone and the guys stood up when it mattered the most. All bases were covered nicely. Everyone turned up. The surface didn’t offer much, that’s why the win is special. Bowlers did well on a track that offered nothing and I think that shows how much hard work the boys put in. Persistent pressure for longer periods always pays off and that’s something I believe in. Last time it was good for bowling and this time it is good for batting,” he said at the presentation ceremony.
Kohli also sounded happy with the performance of the openers who are likely to make way when KL Rahul and Murali Vijay return. Shikhar Dhawan scored 190 in the first innings while Abhinav Mukund made 81 in the second innings.
“One regular opener is not fit right now. I think it is a massive headache (smiles), but a good one to have. At most, only 3 openers make the squad. It’s good to have guys scoring rather than guys not scoring consistently. I think the guys will understand how the dynamics of the team work. It was a situation where we had to capitalize and not waste deliveries. We are still working on how to pace our innings in the second game. It felt nice that it came off well. I thought Abhinav (Mukund) really batted well. He deserved a 100 as well. To get to another Test 100 is really special,” said Kohli.
Shikhar Dhawan was adjudged the Man of the Match for his brilliant 190 in the first innings.
The left-handed batsman, who had scored 134 in the 2015 Galle Test, said: “Really enjoyed batting here. Just watched the ball and kept scoring. Very healthy competition in the side and it keeps me on my toes and always looking forward to improve myself.”