x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

One day does the damage

MS Dhoni and Kumar Sangakkara agreed that the second Test match in Kanpur was effectively decided on the first day.

MS Dhoni and Kumar Sangakkara agreed that the second Test match in Kanpur was effectively decided on the first day. India, as expected, completed a crushing victory by an innings and 144 runs yesterday - their biggest against Sri Lanka - to go one up in this three-match series, but it was events on the first morning that shaped the four-and-a-half day of this match at Green Park.

Sri Lanka captain Sangakkara crucially lost an important toss - the make-up of his side was geared around batting first and then allowing the three spinners to wheel away on a wearing pitch - and then saw Virender Sehwag dropped at slip in the first over. India never looked back, scoring 417 on the day, while Sri Lanka never recovered. "We had a chance early on that first day but didn't take it," said Sangakkara.

"It was a good first day by them and a bad one by us. We found ourselves more than 600 runs behind and then played some loose shots. There was some exceptional stuff from Shanthakumaran Sreesanth when we were batting, a great first innings by India and a poor one from us. That decided the match." Green Park is a happy hunting ground for Dhoni. The Indian wicket-keeper celebrated his first Test win as captain on this ground last year and yesterday masterminded India's 100th Test win, and with it their third largest margin of victory of all time. "It is a moment of pride for me," said Dhoni. "I am privileged to be part of a side who won their 100th Test. It was a good toss to win. The wicket was best on the first day and we managed to put them under pressure with runs in the first innings."

The teams travel to Mumbai for the series finale on Wednesday with India chasing a victory that would move them to the summit of the Test rankings. They will have to achieve it with in-form opener Gautam Gambhir who has been given permission to miss the match to attend his sister's wedding. "It was important to get some big momentum on our side going into the final Test match," said Dhoni. "I'm sure the wickets are going to be something different for the fast bowlers and the spinners so let's hope for some exciting cricket."

Sangakkara, meanwhile, knows he will have to dig deep into his powers of motivation to pick his side up off the floor after such a chastening defeat. "The team are hurting and disappointed with themselves," he said. "We will have a hard look at ourselves and come back strong." One crumb of comfort for Sangakkara was the defiance of Thilan Samaraweera who attempted to delay the inevitable with an innings of 78 not out.

He added 61 with Prasanna Jayawardene and then an unlikely 73 with Ajantha Mendis. Yuvraj Singh bowled Mendis with his left-arm spin, the ball going straight on as the batsman attempted to defend off the front foot. Ojha then caught and bowled last man Chanaka Welegedara. Harbhajan finished with three for 98, while Ojha claimed two for 36 as Sri Lanka were all out for 269. But it was Shanthakumaran Sreesanth who was named man-of the match for his five-wicket haul in Sri Lanka's first innings.

"God's been kind. I have lots of people to thank," he said. "I'm working on my pace, trying to get it to the 145 kph mark, I'm feeling good." kaffleck@thenational.ae