22 yards after 22 years: Team India conquers Emerald Island

Photos: AFP
Photos: AFP

The last time the Indian cricket team won a Test series in Sri Lanka was way back in 1993, under the captaincy of Mohammad Azharuddin. Since then it has been a long wait for Team India to conquer the 22 yards in the Emerald Island. This Test series was seen as a litmus test for Kohli’s men, who were new and inexperienced, generating both apprehension and excitement among young Indian cricket fans.

After the sudden retirement of the flamboyant Mahendra Singh Dhoni from Tests, the young aggressive and expressive batsman Virat Kohli took over as the Test skipper. It marked the beginning of a new era in Indian cricket. The Sri Lanka Test series was Kohli’s first full series as the captain. It was also an opportunity for Team Director Ravi Shastri, the former all- rounder and champion of champions, to strengthen his chances of bagging the chief coach spot that lies vacant after the retirement of Duncan Fletcher.

The series did not exactly begin the way the Indian team wanted. A demoralising 63 runs loss at the first Test in Galle came as a major disappointment and exposed the chinks in the Indian armour. The result sent shockwaves as Team India crumbled against the wily spin of Rengana Herath.

But it needs to be specified that the young Indian batting line-up held their nerves and played well. Although their efforts went in vain, in the first Test at Galle, skipper Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan scored a century each.

A match down in the three match series, all it took the team was an inspired effort and to bounce back in the series by winning the second Test at Colombo. It trounced Sri Lanka by a whopping 278 runs to level the series 1-1 and setup the series decider at Colombo.

In the second Test, young Karnataka batsman KL Rahul scored an impressive ton. And when the things got a bit tight in the second innings of the second Test the ever reliable Ajinkya Rahane, who has now scored all his four Test tons away from home, stood like a rock much like his idol, the Indian batting legend Rahul Dravid, to score a vital match- winning hundred. Rahane also earned kudos from the legendary Gavaskar for his willingness to bat in any position in the interest of the team, like Dravid, who opened, kept wickets and captained the side with distinction when the need arose.


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