Pujara steadies India after Shanaka's double-strike

Lunch India 74 for 5 (Pujara 47*, Saha 6*, Lakmal 3-5, Shanaka 2-23) v Sri Lanka
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Sri Lanka’s seamers capitalised on another bowling-friendly period in Kolkata, as Dasun Shanaka picked up two wickets with his gentle medium pace on a gloomy morning offering sufficient lateral movement. Cheteshwar Pujara displayed impeccable defensive technique again, picking only the errant deliveries to score during his unbeaten 47, carrying India to 74 for 5 before a drizzle forced an early lunch on the second day.

Dinesh Chandimal, anticipating a long haul for his seamers, operated with a specialist fast bowler from one end and Shanaka from the other for the majority of the morning. Seam, like spin, is more effective at a quicker pace, disallowing batsmen time to be decisive with their feet and shot selection. Therefore, India’s batsmen would have preferred Shanaka to two specialist fast bowlers.

However, these are atypical conditions for a Test match in India. With so much rain over the last few days, it seemed like a pitch on which the grass grew itself under the covers. That gave Shanaka, despite his 125 kmph range, a fair chance under overcast skies.

Pujara, attuned to such conditions through his recent stint with Nottinghamshire, came forward to drive away from his body only when Shanaka erred too full, hitting him for four boundaries through mid-off. However, Ajinkya Rahane, and then R Ashwin, misread Shanaka’s perfect full deliveries for run-scoring opportunities, driving loosely with their hands too far away.

A scrambled-seam delivery, which neither swung nor seamed, found Rahane’s outside edge, as he played for the inward angle. Ashwin had played 28 balls for four runs, his only scoring shot a sweetly-timed cover drive off a full toss from Shanaka, when he sliced a drive to backward point.

In between, Suranga Lakmal and Lahiru Gamage, both of whom generated appreciable swing and bounce – arguably too much on this surface – to beat the bat regularly. Ashwin was even rapped on the right hand by an inducking dart that kept climbing steeply to beat an awkward jab.

Pujara was rewarded for his diligence as Chandimal was forced to turn to Dimuth Karunaratne’s even-gentler medium pace, hitting him for 12 runs off six wayward deliveries.

Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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