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FIVE reasons why India lost the Galle Test

By Harish Kotian
Last updated on: August 15, 2015 16:21 IST
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Harish Kotian/Rediff.com highlights what Virat Kohli needs to ponder about, after the Galle defeat

Virat Kohli

Image: India captain Virat Kohli returns to the dressing room after his dismissal in the second innings in Galle. Photograph: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

Indian fans were left in disbelief as Sri Lanka staged a coup, stealing an unlikely victory from the jaws of defeat.

Not many would have expected Sri Lanka to even draw -- forget snatch victory -- after conceding a huge 192-run lead.

Led by Dinesh Chandimal's counter-attacking innings of 162, and veteran Rangana Herath's superb spell of 7/48, Sri Lanka won by 63 runs.

India's batting collapsed in the second innings, and except for Ajinkya Rahane's 36, no other batsman stood up to the Sri Lankan spinners.

India captain Virat Kohli has a lot to ponder ahead of the second Test in Colombo, starting August 20. As he sits down for a post-mortem, here are a few areas he needs to seriously consider:

1. First innings collapse

Centuries from Shikhar Dhawan (134) and Virat Kohli (103) had put India in a good position for a huge first innings score after Sri Lanka were bowled out for 183.

At one stage, they were looking comfortable on 294/4 before a tired Dhawan played onto his stumps and was bowled. His dismissal triggered a lower order collapse and despite Wriddhiman Saha's brave innings of 60, the visitors could only add 81 runs for their last six wickets.

Another 50, 70 runs could have proved vital in the final outcome. India will certainly regret not scoring in excess of 400!

2. Chandimal's century

IMAGE: Dinesh Chandimal celebrates after completing his century. Photograph: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

Many felt the game would well finish inside three days as Sri Lanka slipped to 95/5 following the quick dismissals of Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews. Dinesh Chandimal single-handedly turned the match on its head with an attacking innings of 162 from 169 balls that was laced with 19 fours and four sixes.

His century helped Sri Lanka post 367 in the second innings and set India a challenging 176 on a pitch that was getting difficult for batting and offered a lot of assistance to the spinners.

3. India's DRS reluctance

Agreed, the rules/conditions are the same for both teams, but the absence of the Decision Review System proved vital, at least for India.

Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne were both beneficiaries of some poor umpiring decisions as they revived the Sri Lankan innings with a 125-run partnership for the sixth wicket.

If the DRS had been in use, India may have got either of those wickets, especially Chandimal, who got two reprieves and the result would have been different.

Time for the Board of Control for Cricket in India to reconsider its adamant stand against the DRS.

4. Defensive approach on Day 4

Shikhar Dhawan

IMAGE: Shikhar Dhawan walks back after his dismissal in the second innings. Photograph: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

The Galle Test confirmed the unpredictability of Test cricket. One bad session cost India the match after being in control for the most part.

India dominated the first three days but a horrific morning session on the fourth day during which they lost six wickets for 55 runs in 28 overs proved the turning point.

It all started with India's ultra-defensive tactics in the morning session, with both Dhawan and night-watchman Ishant Sharma preferring to bat with caution and not look for runs.

Dhawan took 36 balls to get his first runs on Day 4 and allowed Sri Lanka to build the pressure and steal the momentum.

A few quick wickets put India in a spot, with not many runs on the board. The Sri Lankan bowlers had settled into a good rhythm by then.

5. Rohit's twin failures

Rohit Sharma

IMAGE: Rohit Sharma was a huge disappointment. Photograph: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

Rohit Sharma's twin failures (9 and 4) proved crucial to India's hopes. Virat Kohli has preferred Rohit at No 3 ahead of Cheteshwar Pujara, who definitely has a better technique to cope in difficult conditions away from home.

Before this match, Rohit's average in Tests was a lowly 27.91 from 13 innings, with just two half-centuries. It is not showing any signs of getting better.

'We figured out that Rohit is an impact player who can get the runs quickly. If he settles in, he can take a session away from the opposition and give us that extra time to get 20 wickets,' Kohli said earlier this month.

Maybe it is time to pick a player who has good technique and can spend time at the wicket and not just score runs quickly.

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Harish Kotian / Rediff.com

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