Key passages of play from day three of the Galle Test between Sri Lanka and India.
Sangakkara bids farewell to Galle
On July 20, 2000 Kumar Sangakkara made his Test debut against South Africa at Galle International Stadium. And 132 Tests later, he signed off at the venue in his penultimate appearance for Sri Lanka. All across the coastal sea town were banners congratulating the legend and wishing him a fitting farewell, but in the end it was not to be. After making just 5 on day one, Sangakkara added 40 in Sri Lanka’s second innings before he was out to the same bowler, R Ashwin, shortly before lunch on Friday. Not the exit he or the local fans would have liked, but the sight of Sangakkara raising his bat to the spectators in Galle was touching.
Charismatic, carefree Chandimal
In the first innings, Dinesh Chandimal used a drop on 5 to score a punchy 59, full of aggressive shots including the sweep. In the second, he moved from two close calls on the stroke of lunch to propel himself to his third Test century, a career-best 162 not out that hauled Sri Lanka out of the threat of an innings defeat and to a lead of 175. It was not an innings without blemish, but one could only marvel at the self belief of Chandimal in taking on India’s bowling. He pinged almost every corner of the field with crisp drives and flicks, powerful cuts and pulls and an inventive range of sweeps and reverse-sweeps. Barring Amit Mishra, off whom he scored 29 from 56 deliveries faced, Chandimal owned the attack. He took 54 off 48 balls from R Ashwin, 22 from 19 off Harbhajan Singh, 14 from 14 off Varun Aaron, and 43 from 32 balls that Ishant Sharma bowled to him.
Before today, in the history of Test cricket, six fielders had taken seven catches in a match. Ajinkya Rahane broke that record with eight catches in this Test, outdoing Greg Chappell, Yajurvindra Singh, Hashan Tillakaratne, Stephen Fleming and Matthew Hayden, the last man to achieve the record in 2004, with an exceptional display of fielding. Rahane drew level with those five men when he held onto a thick outside edge off the bat of left-hander Jehan Mubarak. That was his fourth of the innings, taking him to one short of the record for most catches in a Test innings. The record eight catch came when Sri Lankan tailender Rangana Herath poked Amit Mishra to Rahane at slip. In what was otherwise a day of toil for India, Rahane claiming one record and equalling another was mighty impressive.
Harbhajan ‘swept’ away
The most successful active bowler in Test cricket has had a forgettable time in Galle, conceding 90 runs in 25 overs for the reward of a solitary wicket. And, disappointingly, Harbhajan was predictably lacking in flight and guile once again. On day three he was very ordinary, never more than when Chandimal took on his flat line with some attacking sweeps and reverse-sweeps. The most audacious being a reverse-hit for six off the first ball of the 71st over, at which point Virat Kohli removed Harbhajan from the attack.
It was in Galle during India’s 2008 tour of Sri Lanka that Harbhajan took ten wickets in a famous, series-levelling win in the second Test. Seven seasons on, his fellow offspinner Ashwin emulated the achievement with four wickets in Sri Lanka’s second innings following figures of 6/46 on day one, incidentally the best by an Indian on Sri Lankan soil. This was the third time in Ashwin’s career that he took ten wickets in a Test, following 12/85 against New Zealand in 2012 and 12/198 against Australia in 2013. Ashwin and Harbhajan are the only Indians bowlers to take ten in a Test in Sri Lanka.