India finished Day 1 at 344-3 after a dominant display that saw Pujara and Rahane both score centuries, with Rahul chipping in with a handy 57. Captain Kohli’s misery with the bat continued as he departed for 13, albeit to a brilliant catch from Mathews, which would’ve easily gone down on another day. The pitch spun and assisted the slower bowlers from very early on in the day, making for an exciting preview for the rest of the match.
The First Session
Before the game commenced for the second day, commentator Simon Doull announced that Nuwan Pradeep would take no further part in the innings after he walked off mid-over yesterday, clutching his thighs. The blow ensured that slow bowling ruled the roosts today, and rightly so given the manner of all the dismissals that took place.
India lost Pujara on 133 just two overs into the day to an LBW off of Karunaratne. He was initially judged not out, but Sri Lanka successfully reviewed the decision to earn a key wicket early. In walked Ashwin, ahead of Saha. Ashwin proved himself to be a consummate lower order batsman in Test cricket with his solid first Test innings. Rahane and he kept the innings going before the former departed in the 111th over for 132, giving Pushpakumara his first international wicket who deceived Rahane with a flighted delivery inviting him to hit over the top. Rahane fell for the trap, and suffered the consequence, giving way to Saha out at the crease.
Sri Lanka bowled a tight line to the Indians as they conceded 98 runs in the first session, sending both centurions back. Herath and Pushpakumara started getting into the groove as they utilised the dryness of the pitch. They would turn out to be very effective in the second session.
The Second Session
Ashwin continued where Pujara and Rahane left off, reaching his 11th half century in Tests and creating a record for being the fourth fastest to the list of cricketers who have scored 2000 runs and taken 200 wickets. He fell to a quicker one the very next ball after hitting Herath for a six to raise his fifty, trying to cut an arm ball with no room. Pandya succeeded him, contributing with a breezy 20 from 20. Pushpakumara kept tempting Pandya to hit him as he bowled slow and flighted deliveries around the 70kmph mark. Pandya took his chances, but couldn’t hit them all out of the park.
‘Sir’ Jadeja walked out to partner Saha as they returned stability to the batting even as the latter played quasi-sweeps with the bat slapping the ball down to send it just beside the keeper for a single or couple, like a reverse dil-scoop. As Saha too reached his half century, India crossed the 550 mark, looking good for 700 comfortably with these two at the crease. Sri Lanka put up an impressive display in the first session, but India retained control in this one as they posted a huge score.
The Third Session
Saha started off the third session with a 10 run over to Herath as India signaled their intent. However, he fell just six balls later to the same bowler, having scored 67 runs. He was deceived by the spin on the ball as he attempted a cross-batted heave over mid-wicket, giving Herath his third wicket of the innings, reminding everyone of his quality.
Jadeja then became the sixth to score over fifty with a boundary to fine leg. Shami, on the other end, scored a quick 19 from eight balls, hitting two sixes, clearly having been told that a declaration would soon be made. India soon crossed 600 as Yadav walked in, having passed the mark in consecutive tests.
India declared on 622-9, giving Sri Lanka 20 overs to bat. India will try to restrict Sri Lanka below 422 and enforce the follow on to force a result should time be an issue. The pitch won’t get any better as the sessions elapse, and India will not want to bat again on Day 4 or 5.
Upul Tharanga departed in the second over to Ashwin thanks to a sharp catch by KL Rahul at short leg. Kohli and Rahul dabbed to celebrate, in a rare moment of calm for the Indian skipper. The pitch had plenty of movement for Shami on shorter lengths, taking the ball away from the batsmen. Karunaratne found it impossible to read Ashwin as he maintained a consistent length in the corridor of uncertainty. The opener soon fell, edging one to Rahane at slip after glimpses of a partnership building between him and Mendis to reduce the Lankans to 33-2. Chandimal walked out to replace him.
Sri Lanka ended the day after laboriously reaching a 50, with both batsmen playing some attacking shots against the Indian spinners. If these two stick around, Sri Lanka might be able to put up a competitive total in the coming days of the Test.
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