Kandy, (IANS) India skipper Virat Kohli on Monday picked rising all-rounder Hardik Pandya’s performance as the biggest positive after the visitors comprehensively beat Sri Lanka by an innings and 171 runs to complete their maiden 3-0 clean sweep of the islanders.
Pandya starred with the bat, firing his maiden Test ton (108 off 96 balls) to help India post 487 in their first innings at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium here. He also bagged the wicket of dangerman Angelo Matthews in the hosts’ first innings
Besides the Pallekele ton and a 50 in the first match at Galle, Pandya picked up four wickets in his debut Test series.
Hailing the young all-rounder, Kohli said Pandya’s performance will do a world of good in achieving the perfect balance in the side in the upcoming Test tours.
“Good win for us. Very happy with the overall performance. Always feels nice to have convincing wins, pretty good day for us,” he said during the post-match presentation.
“The regulars have performed, but the biggest positive would be Hardik’s inclusion and the way he shaped up in these three Test matches. The kind of confidence he showed with the ball and the maturity with the bat, it really gives us a lot of boost and the balance,” he added.
Reiterating the team’s strategy to play ruthless cricket, Kohli said the current crop have a lot of cricket to play together in the coming years and he would want his side to “be proactive rather than being reactive”.
“The usual suspects are always there and thereabouts. We are a young side, we look forward to playing Test cricket, we look forward to playing every single Test match with the same kind of excitement and that is the only way you can be ruthless,” he said.
“We like to be prepared beforehand and be proactive rather than being reactive. We have age on our side and we have an opportunity to play together for five, six years for the country,” the 28-year-old added.
The Delhi batsman also praised the opponents as “super talented” cricketers, who lost the momentum during the series but can bounce back well if they believe in themselves.
Talking about the Sri Lankan team, he said: “All of them are super talented players… that is why they are playing for the country. They beat Australia 3-0. Sometimes the side has momentum, sometimes they don’t. It’s all about keeping the belief going and not losing motivation because of a few results….”
Crediting India for the comprehensive win, Sri Lanka skipper Dinesh Chandimal said: “You can’t control the toss, but this was a tough series. Credit to India for playing outstanding cricket throughout the series.”
“Our batting and bowling was below par. They scored 600 in each innings, so that is why we decided to play five bowlers. We have to be patient and concentrate harder (when batting or bowling),” he added.
Man-of-the-series Shikhar Dhawan, who wasn’t a first choice opener and only came in as a replacement for the injured Murali Vijay, finished as the highest run-getter (358), which included two centuries.
“Before this series I was in Hong Kong enjoying a holiday. But I got an opportunity because one of the openers was injured. I am enjoying my batting right now. I have to keep performing because we have tough competition for all the slots, so that is a great sign for Indian cricket,” he said.