Virat Kohli hailed his teammates for helping him register his first Test win as India captain and said it was a “commendable effort” from the side to regroup quickly and level the series after the heart-breaking loss in the series opener in Galle.
India notched up a series-levelling 278-run victory in the second Test against Sri Lanka, denying the legendary Kumar Sangakkara a fairytale farewell from the game. The wily off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin again did the bulk of the damage with superb figures of 5 for 42 as the Lankans capitulated spectacularly to give Virat Kohli his first Test win as captain with almost two full sessions to spare.
“Absolutely, I am delighted. I came close twice before. Once in Adelaide, once in Galle. We played really good cricket in both those Tests. If we had done it for one more session in Galle. (But) commendable effort to regroup so soon and putting up this show,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Kohli praised young KL Rahul, who scored a century in the first innings and pulled of a stunner in the first ball of the day after taking up the wicket-keeping duties from injured Wriddhiman Saha.
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“He (Rahul) takes up the gloves because Saha is injured, and ends up taking a blinder first ball. That set the momentum. That is an example of how everybody chipped in,” the Indian skipper said.
“As I said, once we took those early wickets, we wanted to bowl attacking lines. We were pumped up to take wickets and didn’t want to lose time.”
Kohli also had words of appreciation for his bowling unit.
“Everyone apart from Stuart (Binny) bowled today. My four strike bowlers did the job today. But in the first innings you have to applaud Stuart because on that pitch he bowled great control to keep my other bowlers fresh,” he said. Kohli also congratulated Sangakkara, who walked into the sunset after playing his last international game on Monday.
Watch as Kumar Sangakkara bids goodbye (App users click here)
“And I just want to congratulate Kumar again on a wonderful career. I have spoken a lot about him, everyone has, in the last week, but I can’t help saying it again that it has been an absolute pleasure playing with you,” Kohli said.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said the entire team is disappointed for failing to give a perfect send-off to Sangakkara but promised to comeback harder in the third Test.
“We didn’t play our best cricket. More disappointed we didn’t win it for Sanga. We promised him we would play our best cricket, but we didn’t. We will try and win it for him in the next match,” the home team skipper said.
Mathews criticised his batting department for letting the team down.
“The best days for batting were second and third, and we clearly didn’t capitalise. I am pretty disappointed with our batting in the second innings. The wicket was quite demanding, but we could have put on a better show on the last day,” Mathews said.
“After they (India) took the lead, they batted really well and put us under a lot of pressure. Having said that, India, especially Ashwin, bowled really well.”
Mathews also thanked the legendary Sangakkara on the completion of a glorious career.
“On behalf of the team, we can’t thank Sanga enough for his services over the last 15 years,” the Lankan skipper said.
Man-of-the-match Rahul said he was pleased to score two centuries already in just his four-match-old Test career.
“Pretty pleasing as a youngster to get two hundreds in four odd matches. But there is a long way to go and a lot to learn. It’s just a very happy feeling firstly to get called up to play for the national team, and then to score two hundreds in four games. I will be more confident into the next Test,” Rahul said.
Asked about his time behind the wicket today, Rahul said:
“I was a wicketkeeper till under-19. From then on, I didn’t get chance to keep. I enjoy it.
“I am pretty happy that I took a good catch first ball.”
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