From being India’s pace spearhead to being sidelined by the younger crop, Ishant Sharma has had a tough ride on the international scene in the last year. But on Friday, the most-experienced campaigner in the Indian Test team — with 77 appearances — showed his class as he played a pivotal role in bundling Sri Lanka for a meager 205 on the opening day of the second Test at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur.
The live broadcast of the match will be shown on Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1HD, Star Sports 1 Hindi and Star Sports 1 Tamil while the live streaming of the match can be caught on www.hotstar.com. The match is scheduled to start at 9 AM IST. You can also check out CricketNext's LIVE blog for all the latest action from the match including live scores, ball-by-ball commentary and analysis.
At stumps, India were placed at 11/1, trailing by 194 with 9 wickets in hand. While Murali Vijay was unbeaten on 2, Cheteshwar Pujara is also batting on 2. The Lankan pace bowling duo of Suranga Lakmal and Lahiru Gamage did bowl their heart out and Gamage even rattled KL Rahul’s (7) stump. But going by Vijay and Pujara’s mood, a long day surely awaits the Lankans on Saturday.
It was a pitch in complete contrast to the lively track on offer in the opening Test in Kolkata, but the lanky pacer put his head down and showed great consistency to finish with figures of 3/37 from his 14 overs with 3 maidens. More than the wickets column, it was the areas he bowled in that reminded fans of his spell against England at the Lord’s in 2014. The only difference was that while he used the short ball to spell England’s end that fateful day, it was his fuller deliveries that did the trick on Friday.
Not to forget the lion-hearted efforts from R Ashwin (4/67) and Ravindra Jadeja (3/56). Umesh Yadav was unfortunate to not tick the wickets column despite bowling a tight line right through the day.
Winning the toss, Dinesh Chandimal had no hesitation in opting to bat first on what looked like a batting paradise. But the Lankan batsmen seemed to go into the shell no sooner than Ishant sent back Sadeera Samarawickrama for 13, caught by Pujara at first slip. The early wicket was all Ishant needed to pump him further after bowling Delhi to victory in their Ranji Trophy game against Maharashtra last week.
After this, it was all about going into the shell for Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne. They kept dead batting the Indian bowlers even as the wicket looked anything but threatening. But a sudden rush of blood saw Thirimanne (9) attempt a sweep and Ashwin’s ball missed the bat and disturbed the timber.
With the score reading 2/44, Angelo Mathews walked in to join Karunaratne and the two looked to play positively. But Jadeja had other ideas as he got one to hold its line after pitching and trapped Mathews (10) in front just when he was looking like he wanted to up the ante.
Chandimal joined Karunaratne as the latter brought up his 14th Test fifty. But his joy was short-lived because after getting lucky early on — dropped on 13 by Pujara — he was caught plumb in front by Ishant. It was clearly a result of pitching the ball consistently in the right areas and frustrating the Lankan batsmen.
Karunaratne’s dismissal brought Niroshan Dickwella to the middle and it looked like the duo of Dickwella and Chandimal would bat the game away from the Indians. But one shot too many saw Dickwella (24) scoop Jadeja straight to Ishant at mid-off. Trying to hit against the turn, all he managed to do was top-edge it.
Chandimal batted his way to a fifty, his 14th, but Dasun Shanaka (2) — completely misread the line from Ashwin — and Dilruwan Perera’s (15) — trapped plumb by Jadeja — failure to stand ground with the skipper saw Chandimal try a reverse sweep. But the skipper missed the ball and the review went in Ashwin’s favour as Lanka’s score read a dismal 8/184.
After that it was all about cleaning up the tail at the earliest and while Ishant picked up Lakmal for 17, Ashwin finished formalities by dismissing Rangana Herath for 4. Batting just 79.1 overs on a flat deck can never be an excuse and the Indian batsmen look set to make their counterparts realise that as they gear up for a grinding display on the second day.