Pandya hits massive sixes as India clean-sweep Sri Lanka 3-0

By Kersi Meher-Homji

What a 71st  Independence Day celebration for India! The Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team whitewashed Sri Lanka 3-0 by winning the Pallekele (Kandy) Test by an innings yesterday.

This was India’s first 3-0 whitewash win in a three or more Test series overseas. And they were massive victories by huge margins. The highlight of the match was newcomer Hardik Pandya (108 runs) hitting seven sixes, including three off successive balls from Sri Lankan spinner Malinda Pushpakumara. In that over he smashed 26 runs (4,4,6,6,6,0).

India won the first Test at Galle by 304 runs, the second Test at Colombo by an innings and 53 runs and yesterday’s final Test at Pallekele by an innings and 171 runs.

India totalled 600 runs and 3 declared for 240 in the first Test, 9 declared for 622 in the second and 487 in the third; amassing 1949 runs for the loss of 29 wickets at 67.2 runs per wicket (r/w).

On the other hand Sri Lanka could total only 1421 runs for the loss of 60 wickets in the series, to average   23.7 r/w. Thus India had scored 43.5 more r/w than Sri Lanka, a telling statistic.

In the final Test at Kandy India accumulated 487. Openers Shukhar Dhawan (119) and Lokesh Rahul (85) put on 188 quick runs. Pandya started steadily then smashed the balls high in the sky scoring 108 off only 96 balls. It looked more like a T20 match than a Test match!

SL collapsed for 135 and 181, young Kuldeep Yadav taking 4-40 in the first innings and experienced Ravichandran Ashwin 4-68 in the second. SL replied with poor scores of 135 and 181 as India won her second Test by an innings to pocket the series 3-0. Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara hit two centuries each in the series which was   memorable for India.

Pandya was adjudged Man of the Match and Dhawan the Man of the Series. India had completely dominated the series.

At the presentation, Pandya said, “I was glad that I got my first hundred here, situation pretty good for me. I was always going to have a target in mind. Test cricket is not easy to get five-fors, takes plenty of hard work. I’m alright with where the team needs me to bat.”

Man of the Series Dhawan said, “Before the series, I was in Hong Kong enjoying my holiday. Things went very well for me. I got back up from my management, I enjoy playing this way. It’s my natural game. I’ve to keep doing, nothing permanent, we have tight competition for all positions.”

Victorious captain Virat Kohli could not stop smiling as he concluded, “A good day, a good win. Always nice to have a convincing win. I would say the regulars have performed, the biggest positive was Hardik’s inclusion — he gives us a boost in the middle order. We are a young side, looking forward to all Tests, that’s the only way you can be ruthless. We like to be proactive instead of reactive.”

Happy Independence Day, India.

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