Ravindra Jadeja picked up his ninth career five-wicket haul Test in Colombo as India defeated Sri Lanka in the second Test by an innings and 53 runs on Sunday, August 6.
The massive win gives India an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three match series. Notably, Virat Kohli's men had won the first Test in Galle by a 304-run margin.
India enforced follow on after Sri Lanka were bowled out for 183 in the first innings, in reply to the visitors' mammoth first innings total of 622. Despite losing opener Upul Tharanga early in the second innings, Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis delayed the inevitable with a 191-run stand on Day 3.
After Mendis departed for 110 towards the close of play on Saturday, Karunaratne kept the Indian bowlers at bay in the opening session on Day 4 before Jadeja managed an edge off his bat. Once the set batsman departed, the batting-order began to crumble against the Indian spinners on the rank turner at the Sinhalese Sports Club Cricket Ground.
Superman Saha shows his class
Spiteful turners are not only nightmares for batsmen, but also for wicketkeepers. Wriddhiman Saha though seems to be an exception.
Man of the Match Jadeja came up with an all-round show while Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane scored first innings ton to crush Sri Lanka's spirits. However, the most important contribution came from Saha, who was involved in three crucial dismissals in the second innings.
Saha's heroics behind the stumps earned him a lot of praise from skipper Kohli, and deservedly so. The Indian captain even labelled his wicketkeeper the best in the longer format of the game.
"Four byes on that sort of pitch speaks of his [Saha's] quality. He is definitely the best keeper in this format I will say. How agile he is! He is very safe behind the stumps and creates chances at any stage," Kohli said during the post-match presentation ceremony on Sunday.
Kohli could not have been more precise with his description of Saha.
When Karunaratne and Mendis were going strong on Day 3, it was Saha's brilliance behind the stumps that saw the latter heading back to the pavilion. The right-hander was at ease in dealing with R Ashwin and Jadeja. He made sure the two premier spinners did not settle down during Sri Lanka's second innings by using his feet to great effect.
However, Hardik Pandya, who was introduced to the attack towards the close of play, induced an inside edge off Mendis' bat that ballooned after hitting the right-handers' pads. Saha showed no signs of having kept wickets on a long and humid day in Colombo as he dived forward and took an absolute blinder, thereby decimating the new-found spirits of the Colombo crowd.
Saha was once again in action on Day 4 when Angelo Mathews edged a Jadeja delivery that misbehaved. The wicketkeeper had very little time to react, but he did everything right to hold on to the catch, which eventually made sure India did not have to bat again in the Test match.
Vital cog in Kohli's unit
Saha, who made his Test debut in 2010, had to wait until MS Dhoni's retirement (in 2014) to become a regular. But, the West Bengal stumper has owned the slot with his sleight of hands behind the wickets.
While he struggled to be consistent in 2015 with the bat, the 32-year-old has played some crucial knocks in collusion with the tailenders. In seven Tests he has played so far in 2017, Saha has amassed 722 runs at 50.27 -- an outstanding number considering he bats at No. 7.
Two of Saha's three Test centuries have also come this year. With India lined-up to face tougher challenges in overseas conditions in the coming months, he is proving to be an asset for the team.