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Kohli hails ‘precious’ Jadeja after series win

COLOMBO: Skipper Virat Kohli Sunday hailed Ravindra Jadeja for his all-round performance in the series-clinching victory against Sri Lanka, saying the left-arm spinner gave the side a great balance.

The celebrations were short-lived, however, after cricket’s governing body suspended Jadeja from the third and final Test later this week for dangerous play during his match-winning performance in Colombo.

India crushed the home team by an innings and 53 runs on day four of the second Test in Colombo to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

Jadeja, the world number one bowler in ICC Test rankings, claimed five second-innings wickets as India bowled out the hosts for 386. He also contributed an unbeaten 70 in India’s crushing first innings total of 622-9 declared.

“Guys who have both abilities are very rare to find. That’s where we think they’re very precious, specially in the longer format because they provide you with great balance,” Kohli told reporters.

“He can give you a very quick 60-70 anywhere at any stage and it can really turn the game… he’s always in the game. I would say he’s a very valuable cricketer for us.”

But India will have to make do without him in the final Test starting Saturday in Pallekele, after the International Cricket Council slapped Jadeja with a one-match ban and a fine for dangerous play.

Jadeja fell foul of the umpires after the final delivery of the 58th over when, fielding off his own bowling, he threw the ball back at batsman Dimuth Karunaratne, who had not left his crease.

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The ball narrowly missed him in a manner which the on-field umpires determined as “dangerous”, the ICC said in a release.

Sri Lanka had handed India the advantage after being dismissed for 183 in their first innings and conceding a 439-run lead.

But the hosts fought back during their follow-on with a defiant 191-run second-wicket partnership between the left-handed Karunaratne and Kusal Mendis, who fell for 110 before stumps on day three.

However Kohli kept rotating his bowlers at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground to keep the batsmen on their toes, and the strategy paid off.

Tough times

“Today we said even if we don’t get wickets early on we are going to enjoy these tough times as well, because they really improve you as a side,” said Kohli, who became the only Indian captain to win two Test series in Sri Lanka.

“Success will come your way but you need patience. Very happy that we went through the difficult phases as well and you never get complacent as a side then.”

The hosts, who resumed the day on 209-2, lost two wickets in the morning session, including that of skipper Dinesh Chandimal for two. The batsman was caught at slip off Jadeja’s left-arm spin.

Karunaratne kept up the fight during his 69-run fifth-wicket stand with former captain Angelo Mathews, who made a gritty 36 from 66 balls before being caught behind off Jadeja.

“He is a very special bowler. That is the reason why he is ranked number one in world ranking. Credit to him for sticking to his plans,” said Chandimal.

Ravichandran Ashwin, who took five wickets in the first innings, and pacemen Hardik Pandya shared two wickets each.

The Indian batsmen had set up the victory, with Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane hitting fine centuries.

Pujara, who top-scored with 133, and Rahane, who made 132, put together a 217-run stand after the tourists elected to bat first.

“Actually we were outplayed in the first innings with the bat and ball both. Credit goes to them: they batted brilliantly in the first innings and put us under huge pressure,” said Chandimal.

“As a unit we fought back well and I am really happy how the boys played in the second innings. We just want to take the positives out of this game and are looking forward to next one,” he added.

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