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Ashwin takes six to skittle out Lanka for 183


Galle:  Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin spun a web around the batsman as he grabbed six wickets to record his best figures outside India to help the visitors skittle out Sri Lanka for a modest 183 at tea on Day 1 of the first Test here today.

Electing to bat on a day Galle International Stadium wicket, Sri Lanka suffered from lack of partnerships as skipper Angelo Mathews top-sored with a fighting 64. Dinesh Chandimal (59 runs, 77 balls, 9 fours) was the only other batsman to cross the 25-run mark.

Starting from 65 for five after lunch, Mathews and Chandimal (5 not out) stitched up a 79-run sixth-wicket partnership to stem the rot.

The duo though was helped in this endeavour by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, who dropped Chandimal in the second over after resumption of play. In the 25th over, Ishant Sharma (1-30) induced an edge from Chandimal, on 5, and it should have been a regulation catch, but Saha spilled it.

Ashwin (6-46) then bowled only two overs in the first hour of play, inexplicably, while Harbhajan Singh (0-17) bowled a long spell, with either Ishant or Varun Aaron (1-68) giving him company from the other end.

While the off-spinner kept things tight, he bowled a tad shorter than Ashwin and wasn’t able to get as much turn. The batsmen used their feet well against him and weren’t in much difficult as compared to facing Ashwin, who made them push and prod with his probing lengths.

Mathews, playing with a ligament tear in his left wrist, then reached his 22nd Test fifty off 77 balls in the 38th over, and also brought up the 50-partnership with Chandimal subsequently. At drinks, they were placed at 118 for five and when play resumed, skipper Virat Kohli brought Ashwin back into the attack.

The partnership was broken in the 42nd over then, with Mathews caught off Ashwin as the ball lobbed off his bat-pad and Rohit Sharma completed a stunning one-handed catch on second attempt at forward short leg.

Dhammika Prasad (0) then lasted only six deliveries and was trapped LBW by Ashwin, as he completed his maiden five-wicket haul in Sri Lanka. He also improved on his previous best outside India, 5-87 against Bangladesh in June.

Amit Mishra (2-20) then came into the attack and struck twice in two balls, in the 49th over. Ashwin then bowled Rangana Herath (23 runs, 24 balls, 4 fours) to complete the rout just before tea.

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