5 Takeaways from India’s whitewash against Sri Lanka away from home
The Indian team marched on from strength to strength with new stars such as Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav beginning to shine brightly.
Updated - Aug 14, 2017 5:56 pm
It was by far one of the easiest Test series that India played in the last year or so, with the current Sri Lankan side depleted of players who could put up a fight. Up against them on the big stage, were the Indian Team who had last won the Test Series against the strong Australian side.
While India won 2-1 against the team from down under, Sri Lanka pulled off a whitewash against the Kangaroos. The question that mattered was whether this Sri Lankan team could put up a decent show against the visiting Indian side. Virat Kohli was ever so confident coming into the series with the return of the right-handed opening batsman KL Rahul, alongside southpaw Shikhar Dhawan bolstering the squad.
On Day 3 of the Final test, the nail to the coffin was pending, and it was rightly delivered by the off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who picked up four wickets on the third day, to lead India to a series victory. The Indian team marched on from strength to strength with new stars such as Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav beginning to shine brightly.
Five key takeaways from India’s whitewash against Sri Lanka:
1) Shikhar Dhawan gets another life
Just ahead of the series, it was almost confirmed that Murali Vijay would open the innings alongside his partner KL Rahul. However, a recurring injury to the Tamil Nadu opener ensured that he stayed away from the Indian team for some more time, giving Shikhar Dhawan and Abhinav Mukund a chance to get their spot in the team.
While the southpaw Dhawan made the perfect use of the opportunity to gain a place in the team, Mukund, on the contrary, could not do justice to the form that he displayed in the domestic season with Tamil Nadu. It seemed like Dhawan’s place in the Indian team is sealed for the year to come, with back-to-back performances in the Champions Trophy, following it with the display against Sri Lanka
2) Hardik Pandya seals his spot in the Playing XI
The all-rounder from Baroda made use of the opportunity to seal his spot at the cost of the pace-bowler Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. India went with the two pace bowlers in the form of Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami with Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja completing the four bowlers in the line-up.
Hardik Pandya’s inclusion meant that India went with three pace-bowlers and two spinners. The right-handed all-rounder scored his maiden Test century on the second day of the final Test, with some massive blows across the park. However, it is yet to be seen if Virat Kohli would entrust the all-rounder with a spot in the Test squad.
3) The Emergence of Kuldeep Yadav
Kuldeep Yadav‘s inclusion in the squad gave a lot of hopes to the Indian fans that Virat Kohli might experiment the 3-man spin attack, only for it to not happen. Kuldeep Yadav was given the nod ahead of Axar Patel in the final Test following the suspension of the left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja.
The Chinaman ensured that Virat Kohli did not miss the experienced spinner picking up wickets in regular interval. In the first innings of the last Test, the Chinaman picked up four wickets on the second day of the match before picking up a wicket on the third and final day of the match. Yadav’s bowling was mysterious for the Sri Lankan batsmen in the first innings, and their inability to read the youngster only adds sparkles to the youngsters’ journey.
4) KL Rahul picked up from where he left three months ago
Indian opener KL Rahul picked up the same form from where he left against Australia back in the month of March. The right-handed opener was injured and had to be away from the Indian Premier League and the Champions Trophy to make his way back to the Indian squad for the series against Sri Lanka.
The right-handed batsman ensured that there would be no hiccups when he came back into the playing XI with a fine knock of 57 in the first innings, before making a solid 85 on the first day of the last test, combining well with Shikhar Dhawan. It would be only time before the right-hander scores a hundred in the longest format of the game.
5) India’s improvement in fielding
It was a series of contrast for the fielders from both the sides. While Indian fielders made use of most of the opportunities presented in front of them, the Sri Lankan fielders failed to make use of the opportunity to seize the chances that came their way. It was particularly visible in the second Test, where KL Rahul standing in short-leg picked up a catch, made up most of his reflexive actions to dismiss the Sri Lankan opener Upul Tharanga.
The Indian fielders toiled hard in the scorching sun, fielding in quick to prevent the Sri Lankan batsmen from converting the ones to twos’ with quick throws to stumps. The rate of conversion from the Indian fielders was really high in the series, compared to the series against Australia, where they missed several key chances.