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Young guns guide Lankans to draw

Thursday, December 07, 2017
By Kushan Sarkar

Dhananjaya De Silva, Roshen Silva & Niroshan Dickwella hold fort as Sri Lanka see through the final day

New Delhi: Sri Lanka's unheralded youngsters, led by Dhananjaya De Silva, cashed in on the ineffectiveness of Indian spinners, holding on for a draw in the third Test even as the home team collected its ninth successive series victory here yesterday.

While the win in Nagpur ensured a 1-0 series win for India, it will certainly be a moral victory for a beleaguered Sri Lankan team, which also had to endure physical discomfort due to pollution in the national capital.

Sri Lanka were never going to chase 410, but did well enough to bat as many as 103 overs in the second innings, finishing at 299 for five. The captains decided to shake hands after the end of seven mandatory overs.

En route his third Test hundred, De Silva battled severe muscle stiffness before retiring hurt on 119, but he instilled the self belief in debutant Roshen Silva (74 not out) and the maverick Niroshan Dickwella (44 not out), who displayed enormous determination while playing out the final session of the match.

The Roshen-Dickwella pair added invaluable 94 runs for the unbroken sixth-wicket stand as India did not get a single wicket in the final session.

Wriddhiman Saha bungled an easy stumping chance of Dickwella off Ravindra Jadeja (3/81 in 38 overs) in the final session and that, effectively, was the end of India's hopes to win the Test match.

In the past, only England and Australia have managed to win nine series on the trot.

The Test match once again proved that Indian spinners – especially Ravichandran Ashwin (1/126 in 35 overs), is not same bowler when there isn't much help in the wicket. The Kotla track didn't show any wear and tear throughout the five days, rendering Ashwin ineffective in the second innings.

He tried a lot of doosras, carom balls and altered the speed of his deliveries, but they were of no use. The trio of De Silva, Roshen and Dickwella used Ashwin's pace picked up runs easily. His stock delivery, which is the conventional off-break, never came into use save once when he had bowled rival captain Dinesh Chandimal.

If not getting turn was Ashwin's bane, Jadeja was at his restrictive best but again the 'x-factor' in his bowling, when there is some turn and grip on the surface, was missing. He was quicker through the air, hardly flighted the ball, depending on deliveries that straightened as batsmen played for turn.

De Silva, who had a problem using his feet during the later stages due to a muscle pull, was easily able to play him inside the crease. During the final hour of the day, a frustrated Jadeja at times was seen kicking the dust as breakthroughs were hard to come by.

This is the first time in six Tests this year that the islanders managed to stretch Virat Kohli's men to the last session of a match, deservingly earning a favourable result after all the mauling in the past few months.

De Silva's innings was the highlight of the first two sessions as he was hardly troubled by the Indian bowlers en route his third Test hundred. Towards the end, he started hobbling due to the cramps, having played 219 balls.

Brief Scores: India: 536/7d and 246/5dec drew with Sri Lanka: 373 and 299/5 in 103 overs (Dhananjaya de Silva 119, Roshen Silva 74; Ravindra Jadeja 3/81).

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