India finally drew the curtains on a rather one-sided, drab series with a 3-0 whitewash of the Sri Lankans. At no stage in the series did the hosts look anything like the team they were when India toured two years ago. It may be recalled that they lost that series as well (in 2015), although not quite as tamely.
Sri Lankan cricket is in freefall at the moment, while India look like the new world champions ready to face off against any team, anywhere. They were ruthless, cruel and at no point did they give the hosts a whiff of the game. It is fair to say that Sri Lanka barely owned more than one day in the whole series.
As the teams head for the ODIs, here's the report card of the players' mid-term exams:
Shikhar Dhawan (Mat-3, Runs-358, HS-190, Avg-89.50, 100s-2)
Gabbar was on absolute fire in this series, starting off with a blistering 190 and ending it with an equally aggressive 119 at Pallekele. While he wasn't even in the scheme of things at the start of the series, he could push Murali Vijay for a spot by sheer weight of runs now. He topped the run charts, was one of only two batsmen to score two hundreds in the series and was rightly adjudged the Player of the Series.
Cheteshwar Pujara (Mat-3, Inns-4, Runs-309, HS-153, Avg-77.25, 100s-2)
If Pujara had any doubters before the start of this series, they are well hidden after his spectacular effort. The Saurashtrian was outstanding at No 3 for India, transforming himself into a brick wall that the Lankans failed to breach right through the series.
Mohammad Shami (Mat-3, Wkts-10, Avg-17.7, BBI-3/32)
Third behind Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the wicket-takers list, Mohammad Shami stamped his presence on the Test side with a superb show on wickets tailor-made for spinners. He was penetrative, persistent and kept knocking Lankan openers down. Despite average numbers in the series, Shami aces the rankings.
Ravindra Jadeja (Mat-2, HS-70*, Wkts-13, Avg-28.76, BBI-5/152)
Jadeja continued his rise in world cricket and topped the bowler’s and all-rounder’s chart by the end of the second Test. He provided India with vital breakthroughs right through the series and his consistency and impact trumped that of Ashwin in the series. A superb 70* also showed that he hadn't lost it with the bat. It was unfortunate that he missed the final Test at Pallekele
Ravichandran Ashwin (Mat-3, HS-54, Wkts-17, Avg-25.88, BBI-5/69)
Despite topping the bowling rankings, Ashwin loses half a point for his impatience when Lanka ground it out in the second innings at the SSC. That said, the off-spinner was a constant threat at most times in the series and his impeccable lines, enviable drift and square turn had Lankan batsmen completely bamboozled. He also made vital contributions with the bat from no.6, including a half-century.
Hardik Pandya (Mat-3, Runs- 178, HS-108, Avg-59.33, Wkts-4)
The all-rounder made his Test debut and smashed a half-century in his very first innings before nailing down his spot with a thunderous knock at Pallekele. A maiden hundred, off 86 balls, including 26 runs in an over, ensured that Pandya walks away from the series with his spot sound and secure. He also showed glimpses of his talent with the cherry as well.
Ajinkya Rahane (Mat-3, Runs-229, HS-132, Avg-76.33, 100s-1, 50s-1)
Despite the top order doing the bulk of the work, Rahane made his presence felt with a superb hundred and an eye-catching double-century partnership with Pujara. One of India's most reliable batsman in overseas Tests proved his worth yet again after a period of lows.
Kuldeep Yadav (Mat-1, Wkts-5, Avg-19.20, BBI-4/40)
The young Chinaman spinner had to wait his turn and when it arrived, he was ready and pushed his case home with a 4/40. His wrist spin and variations troubled the Lankans, who clearly found it difficult to read Kuldeep. Given his wicket-taking abilities, Kuldeep could push Jadeja and Ashwin for a spot in the XI in overseas Tests.
Dimuth Karunaratne (Mat-3, Runs-285, HS-141, Avg-47.5, 100s-1, 50s-1)
Karunaratne was Lanka's most reliable batsman and although most of his runs came in the second innings, when Lanka were well and truly out of the game, his composure and temperament stood out. He will need to be more consistent in the first innings though.
Umesh Yadav(Mat-3, Wkts-6, Avg-35.83, BBI-2/21)
India's first choice fast bowler in Tests was consistent, bowled with pace and venom and more often than not created an opportunity early in the game. It is a shame that Umesh’s statistics do not reveal the kind of bowler he was on this tour.
KL Rahul (Mat-2, Runs-142, HS-85, Avg-71.00, 100s-0, 50s-2)
Rahul wasted an opportunity to score hundreds twice in the two Tests he played, but he was solid and composed at the top, proving to be the perfect foil for a rampant Dhawan. He should be India’a first choice opener for overseas Tests.
Wriddhiman Saha (Mat-3, Runs-99, HS-67, Avg-33, 50s-1)
The wicket-keeper batsman had little work to do in front of the stumps with the whole of the top order in fine touch. He was, however, remarkable behind the stumps on tough wickets, showcasing excellent keeping skills especially against Ashwin, Jadeja and Kuldeep.
Lakshan Sandakan (Mat-1, Wkts-5, BBI-5/132, Avg-26.40)
Bizarrely left out of the first two Tests, Sandakan proved to be an instant success at Pallekele. The Indian batsmen, who were fleet-footed and comfortable against the spinners looked dazed by his variations and the Chinaman ended with a fifer to his name. He needs to be groomed, but is a fine prospect.
Niroshan Dickwella (Mat-3, Runs-227, HS-67, Avg-37.83, 50s-2)
Whatever the means be, Dickwella got vital runs for Sri Lanka when the chips were down and his unorthodox methods forced the Indian spinners to at least try something different. Far from a polished player but a worthy talent nevertheless.
Abhinav Mukund (Mat-1, Runs-93, HS-81, Avg-46.50, 50s-1)
Originally picked as India’s first choice back-up opener, Mukund shone with a fine half-century in the opening Test but failed to convert it into a hundred. Dhawan, however, stole the show and it would be a surprise if Mukund is still in the squad when India plays next.
Virat Kohli (Mat-3, Runs-161, HS-103*, Avg-53.66, 100s-1)
The Indian captain was proactive in the field but struggled to notch up the kind of runs that the likes of Pujara and Rahane churned out. He showed impatience and a lack of proper judgment against the spinners in the series and despite getting a hundred, lies at the bottom in India's report card.
Kusal Mendis (Mat-3, Runs-200, HS-110, Avg-33.33, 100s-1)
Mendis undoubtedly holds the key to Lanka's future. He is a highly talented cricketer and showed glimpses of that in the three match Test series but lacked any kind of consistency. He needs to put in more hard work to completely own that No 3 spot.
Nuwan Pradeep (Mat-2, Wkts-6, Avg-43.00, BBI-6/132)
He bowled his heart out in the first Test but seemed a shadow of his self at the SSC before injuring himself and missing out at Pallekele. He is Sri Lanka's No 1 fast bowler in this format but needs to punch above his weight for the team.
Angelo Mathews (Mat-3, Runs-182, HS-83, Avg-30.33, 50s-1)
Mathews was expected to shoulder a large chunk of the burden in the middle-order, but failed in every single manner possible. Mathews looked befuddled in his approach and never looked like the batsman he was when India toured in 2015.
Malinda Pushpakumara (Mat-2, Wkts-5, Avg-47.60, BBI-3/82)
A domestic giant, Pushpakumara had never stepped out of Rangana Herath's shadow in the past and continued to play a second-fiddle role on his debut. In the final Test, with Herath absent, he showed signs of prospering with a neat spell that accounted for Dhawan, Rahul and Rahane.
Dilruwan Perera (Mat-3, Wkts-2, Avg-190, Runs-150, HS-92*)
That he made more contributions with the bat than the ball shows the kind of series the off-spinner had. He was dismal with the ball and while his 92* went a long way in helping him retaining a spot in the squad, his bowling requires a lot of work.
Rangana Herath (Mat-2, Wkts-5, BBI-4/154, Avg-69.40)
The series was dubbed as Herath versus the Indians and the veteran left-arm spinner let himself and his country down with a poor display in conditions in which he usually revels. He looked clueless against the fleet-footed Indian batsmen and failed to get into any kind of rhythm right through the series.
Viswa Fernando (Mat-1, Wkts-2, BBI-2/87, Avg-43.50)
There is little to judge him on but Fernando showed that he has the potential to be in and around Sri Lanka's Test squad. In one spell, he regularly beat the bats of Pandya and Kuldeep but otherwise he was no better than the others.
Lahiru Kumara (Mat-2, Wkts-4, BBI-3/131, Avg-73.50)
The Lankan speedster was wayward and dumped to all parts of the ground by the ruthless Indian batsmen. Kumara's economy rate of 4.88 reveals the kind of series he had. He has a lot of work to do before being pushed into the Test squad again.
Upul Tharanga (Mat-3, Runs-88, HS-64, Avg-14.66)
Tasked with opening the batting, one of Sri Lanka's most experienced players, failed miserably. He looked to attack blindly and barely managed to survive enough time to test himself against the spinners.
Dinesh Chandimal (Mat-2, Runs-96, HS-48, Avg-24.00)
Sri Lanka's newly-appointed skipper had a nightmare of a series both as captain and as a batsman. He failed miserably in the middle-order and his captaincy was uninspiring and downright awful.
Danushka Gunathilaka (Mat-1, Runs-18, Wkts-1, Avg-57)
Yet another disappointing pick from the Lankans. The batsman was pushed into the middle-order slot and failed to show any kind of application during his only Test. He also bowled far too many looseners with the ball and should be nowhere near the Test squad.
Dhananjaya de Silva (Mat-1, Runs-17, Avg-8.5, HS-17)
The selectors were heavily criticised for keeping him out of the XI but when he did get an opportunity, de Silva failed miserably. He might keep his place for the next series but needs to showcase his talent soon.