This after Hardik Pandya played a brilliant knock on debut to register his first fifty in the longest format of the game. Coming in with the Sri Lankan bowlers looking the go for the kill, Pandya grinded for the first half of his innings, got a life when batting on 4, but most importantly took the attack to the bowlers once he had survived the initial half an hour and ended with a 49-ball 50 that included 3 sixes and 5 boundaries.
The Indian bowlers took over from just where Pandya left and kept building the pressure with Umesh Yadav picking the wicket of Dimuth Karunaratne (2) in the second over of the innings. The Lankan batsmen did try to take the attack to the Indian bowlers post Karunaratne’s dismissal, before Mohammed Shami bowled a brilliant 15th over of the innings as he sent back Danushka Gunathilaka (16) and Kusal Mendis (0) in the span of four balls to put the Lankans on the backfoot.
With both Gunathilaka and Tharanga going strong, Kohli and his boys were just starting to look fidgety before Shami ensured that the Indians were right back in the game. Tharanga though kept trying to keep playing positive cricket before luck ran out for the opener.
Batting on 64, he tried to drive Ashwin but only managed to inside edge the ball to Abhinav Mukund at silly point. Mukund moved in a flash and Saha was faster in removing the bails. A dive did see Tharanga get inside the crease, but the bat bounced off the ground at the moment when Saha removed the bails. With disappointment writ large on his face, Tharanga walked back to the pavilion.
After that, it was all about R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja dominating proceedings. While they did not have the wickets to show for their efforts — Ashwin picking only one wicket and Jadeja yet to open his account — the duo tormented the host batsmen in the second half of the post-tea session and if the turn they got in the closing hour was anything to go by, they will be itching to come out to bowl on Friday.
At stumps, Angelo Mathews (54) and Dilruwan Perera (6) were at the crease and have an uphill task if they wish to come anywhere near to India’s first innings total of 600. The last wicket to fall was that of Niroshan Dickwella (8) as Abhinav Mukund picked a blinder at silly point. It was a hard push from Dickwella and Mukund picked that up inches of the ground, much to the delight of the skipper Virat Kohli.
Earlier, it was a good start for the Lankans as they sent back overnight batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in the first session. While Pujara went for 153, to a beauty from Nuwan Pradeep, Rahane (57) was Lahiru Kumara’s first wicket as the vice-captain flashed at one that moved away slightly after pitching. With India’s score reading 432/5, the stage was set for Sri Lanka to walk right back into the game.
But like on the opening day, the Lankans once again let the initiative slip as Ashwin and Saha put on 59 crucial runs for the 6th wicket before Herath finally picked a wicket and sent back Saha (16) caught by Dilruwan Perera. India’s score read 491/6.
Ashwin followed soon after as Pradeep’s ploy to come round the wicket and aim at Ashwin’s body worked wonders and the all-rounder edged Pradeep to Dickwella for 47, handing the pacer his fifth wicket of the innings.
Pradeep was undoubtedly the best Lanka bowler on display, but debutant Pandya ensured that even his statistics took a beating as he used the long handle to good effect with Shami for company after Ravindra Jadeja (15) was cleaned up with a beauty.
Pradeep set Jadeja up with a bouncer that almost had him smelling the leather and the next ball was the perfect yorker and even before Jadeja good bring the bat down, the stumps had gone for a walk in the park.
With India’s score reading 517/8, Lanka once again sniffed an opportunity to keep the Indians under the 550-run mark. But Shami joined Pandya and the two went hammer and tongs at the Lankan bowlers, putting on 62 for the 9th wicket off 51 balls as they took the pacers and spinners to the cleaners.
A bouncer from Kumara finally saw the end of Shami (30) as his pull landed straight in the hands of Upul Tharanga at the deep square-leg boundary. India’s score by then had reached 579.
After this it was Umesh’s turn to put up a small little partnership of 21 runs with Pandya before perished trying to score some more quick runs off the bowling of Kumara for 50, caught by substitute Dhananjaya de Silva at the deep square-leg boundary. India’s innings ended bang on 600.
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First Published: July 27, 2017, 5:22 PM IST