Sports Page — You spend hours planning for outside edges and lbws, pegging away just outside off and breaking backs bowling bouncers, sweating, despairing, hoping for slip fielders to take the catches, praying the umpires agree with your lbw appeals, debating over DRS and no-balls, and then a Test turns on a reverse-sweep. Coming together at five down with 78 overs to survive, captain Angelo Mathews and debutant Kusal Perera kept India at bay for 38.1 overs and 135 runs, giving them an outside chance at an improbable win – still 144 away with 40 overs to go – but Perera fell to a reverse-sweep four overs before new ball and tea.
India’s dying spirits – they were no doubt reminded of Johannesburg, Wellington and Galle over the last 20 months – found just the resuscitation they needed. With the first over with the new ball, Ishant Sharma, the much-maligned fast bowler, the hero of two of India’s last three Test wins, and in the spotlight for his behaviour, removed Mathews for a valiant 110 to register his 200th Test wicket and pave the way for India’s first away series win in four years and their first in Sri Lanka in 22 years. That he did so on cue and with a really full ball, two feats he has notoriously found difficult to muster over his career, will make the lbw sweeter.
Summarized scores: India 312 (Pujara 145*, Mishra 59, Prasad 4-100) and 274 (Ashwin 58, Rohit 50, Pradeep 4-62, Prasad 4-69) beat Sri Lanka 201 (Perera 55, Herath 49, Ishant 5-54) and 268 (Mathews 110, Perera 70, Ashwin 4-69, Ishant 3-32) by 117 runs