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Match reports

Sri Lanka v India, 2015-16

Wisden's review of the third Test, Sri Lanka v India, 2015-16

India clinched the series 2-1  •  AFP

India clinched the series 2-1  •  AFP

At Colombo (SSC), August 28-September 1, 2015. India won by 117 runs. Toss: SriLanka. Test debuts: M. D. K. J. Perera; N. V. Ojha.
One of the golden rules in the subcontinent, no matter how tempting the alternative, is to bat first. But, carried away by a generous and rare covering of grass on a relaid pitch, at a ground notorious for high-scoring draws, Mathews gambled and threw India in. While his decision wasn't decisive, it did play some part in the result, which secured India's first overseas series in more than four years, and their first in Sri Lanka in five attempts since 1993-94.
It was also Sri Lanka's first defeat at the Sinhalese Sports Club for 15 Tests. They were exposed to the harsh reality of life without Kumar Sangakkara. Only Mathews, with a battling hundred in a forlorn cause, and Kusal Perera, who became the third wicketkeeper to make twin half-centuries on Test debut - after Chandimal at Durban in 2011-12, and India's Dilawar Hussain against England at Calcutta in 1933-34 - offered any resistance.
Otherwise, the Sri Lankans were blown away by the pace of Ishant Sharma,also the central figure in a series of ugly spats which earned him a one-Test ban.Those incidents, involving Sharma, Prasad and Chandimal, did nothing for cricket's image. Near the end of India's second innings, Sharma reacted to several bouncers from Prasad, Sri Lanka's most threatening bowler, by running down the pitch tapping his helmet. Chandimal walked over from slip and brushed shoulders with Sharma, incurring a one-match suspension, to apply in a one-day international.
And, when Ashwin was out to end the innings, Prasad ran after Sharma at full pelt towards the dressing-rooms to continue the argument. A fired-up Sharma then gave send-offs to Tharanga - picked to replace Sangakkara - and Chandimal, having already been fined for the same offence in the Second Test.While there were many heroes in India's victory, Pujara stood head and shoulders above them all.
His reputation for durability had taken a serious knock in England in 2014. But injuries to Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay earned him a recall in the role of opener,where he had averaged more than 100 in four previous innings. Still, liberal seam movement, coupled with thick cloud cover, made this a tough challenge.After rain limited the first day to 15 overs, Prasad made light of a sore neck to harry the Indian batsmen.
But Pujara handled him with class on his way to an unbeaten 145,becoming only the fourth Indian to carry his bat. He put on 104 for the eighth wicket with Mishra, resilient and forceful, to steer India to 312, an extremely good total in the conditions. It was boosted by five penalty runs when Perera, diving to his left, dropped a nick off Kohli, and the ball trickled on to the helmet behind him.India's bowlers were stunning, none more than Sharma, but they were helped by a series of ill-judged strokes.
Shortly after lunch on the third day, Sri Lanka were reeling at 47 for six, then Prasad was temporarily forced to retire from a blow on the hand from Sharma. Perera rallied them with a combative fifty, having been reprieved on nine by Rahul at slip,but India gained a lead of 111. They slipped to seven for three in the second innings, but much of the juice had drained from the surface, and the lower order were able to steer them to an adequate 274, setting Sri Lanka a stiff target of 386.
Kaushal had his action reported, and was later banned from bowling his doosra. After Sharma and Yadav fired out the top order, Mathews and Perera had dug deep to add 135. But it always felt as if one wicket would bring a few and, once Perera reverse-swept Ashwin to point, the end arrived swiftly. Sri Lanka lost their last five for 26, Sharma trappings the admirable Mathews lbw with the second new ball to end their slim hopes.
Man of the Match: C. A. Pujara. Man of the Series: R. Ashwin