Pandya's innings changed Sri Lanka's mindset: Kohli on Pallekele win

| Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:20 IST

Pallekele [Sri Lanka], Aug 14 (ANI): After Indian completed a three-match Test series whitewash against Sri Lanka 3-0 with a huge victory in Pallekele, skipper Virat Kohli on Monday heaped praises on `Man of the Match` Hardik Pandya, saying that it was his innings which changed the mindset of the opposition. Pandya stood out with the bat in the third and the final Test as he struck a whirlwind 108-run century to guide India to a first-innings total of 487 runs. Asserting that Pandya's performance has spoken for itself, Kohli said that the former is a great `gun fielder` and extremely handy with both bat and ball, thus bringing a lot of balance to the team. "I don't think I need add any more lines, his performance has spoken for itself. People might have problems with the kind of demenour he has or the belief he carries with himself, but we, certainly in the team, have no doubts on that. We let him be who he is, we let him express himself. You know, a guy who can get a fifty and a hundred in his first three games batting at No.8 has to have something special in him. And the innings that he played here, after being 320 for 6, it wasn't just mad slogging," Kohli said following the win. "He actually used his brain and batted with the tail which I think is a great sign for us. He brings in great balance to the team, he's a gun fielder and he gives you those crucial breakthroughs, he's very handy with the ball and we know what he can do with the bat as well. All doubts aside from the outside, inside the team we absolutely have 120% faith in him," he added. Kohli also couldn't stop himself gushing over Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Yadav, saying that the duo had done exceedingly well for the Indian team last home season and that it was great to see them replicating the same this time as well. "Shami and Umesh have done really well in the last home season as well for us, both with the new ball and old ball and that is the reason we backed them in the series. It's great to see both of them still bowling with a lot of heart, still putting in a lot of efforts. In the last Test match as well and even today the way both bowled was great to watch," he said. "The effort from both of them and you can see the desire to make something happen for the team. Actually the breakthrough of the fast bowlers in the last home season as well was the key for us. So, yes the depth has really helped us to capitalize more situations, in favour of the team and actually end up winning Test matches and series. So that has been the defining factor," the skipper added. When quizzed if he considers Shami among top three in the world, the 28-year-old admitted that the former has all the ingredients of becoming a consistent world-class bowler. "I certainly rate him top three for sure. Because of his wicket-taking ability and the kind of impact he has on games. When he makes up his mind to come out and give it his 120%, then he can bowl like this - 145, 140 clicks on a regular basis and troubling the batsmen. It is not just reckless bowling," he said. "So he is a quality bowler, he has all the ingredients of becoming a consistent world-class bowler, provided the fitness factor can be maintained and hopefully he is not hampered with any more injuries. He is a very valuable bowler for us and when he is on song, it's delightful to watch. We all really enjoy standing on the field and watching him bowl like that. He is very special," Kohli said. A superb bowling performance by Ravichandran Ashwin and Shami saw India beat Sri Lanka by an innings and 171 runs in the third and final match in Pallekele to register their first-ever overseas Test series whitewash. Resuming at yesterday's score of 19-1, the Indian bowlers pierced through the Sri Lankan batting to bundle them out for 181 in their second innings after the Virat Kohli-led side enforced the follow-on on Day Two. Niroshan Dickwella (41) was the only player from the Lankan team to have shown some resistance before being dismissed off Umesh Yadav's delivery. Ashwin was the pick of the bowlers for the visitors, bagging four crucial wickets to add to his first innings figures of two wickets.The off-spinner was well supported by Shami as he removed three Sri Lankan batsmen. Umesh Yadav scalped two wickets while Kuldeep Yadav, who was playing his first overseas Test, also chipped in with two wickets. Earlier, Yadav picked a four-wicket haul, while Shami and Ashwin took up two wickets each as Lanka were all-out for 135 runs--which is their lowest total in the first innings against India at home-in reply to India's first innings score of 487. (ANI)