Sri Lanka well placed to take first-innings lead

Stumps Sri Lanka 165 for 4 (Mathews 52, Thirimanne 51, Dickwella 14*, Chandimal 13*) trail India 172 (Pujara 52, Lakmal 4-26) by 7 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Lahiru Thirimanne and Angelo Mathews compiled contrasting fifties and shared a 99-run partnership that put Sri Lanka in the ascendancy of the Kolkata Test, cutting their deficit to just 7 by stumps on the third day. They were united with the score on 34 for 2 but neither batsman chose to counterattack considering the plausibility of one delivery beating their defenses. They left well and allowed themselves to be beaten several times by playing the line, not pushing their hands too far in front of them. Soon, India’s seamers erred, looking for more than was required, with half-volleys and short and wide offerings and the boundaries flowed.

Just like for Sri Lanka, India’s seamers generated lateral movement from the outset. Bhuvneshwar Kumar produced swing both ways, while Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav used seam off the pitch.

Despite sufficient movement, Sadeera Samarawickrama, promoted to open, batted fluently. Displaying a compact technique and languid elegance, he struck three fours on either side of the wicket in his 23. But continuing to hit through the line with the ball hooping just enough was an approach fraught with risk. Bhuvneshwar duly found his outside edge as he played away from his body.

Thirimanne and Mathews then swung the game in Sri Lanka’s favour. Still on this surface, they needed luck. Bhuvneshwar kept penetrating Mathews’ inside edge, hitting him on both pads. A shorter length, though, meant he survived lbw shouts due to the extra bounce. Umesh even found Thirimanne’s outside edge, but Shikhar Dhawan spilled a simple catch at first slip.

Just after tea though, Umesh Yadav found not only his rhythm, but pace too. An inswinger from around the wicket held its line, found Thirimanne’s outside edge and carried low to Virat Kohli’s left at second slip, who hung onto a sharp chance. Then, Mathews lost his concentration. He chipped a catch to cover, his balance thrown off completely by a transfer of weight on the back foot, anticipating a shorter length.

It was Sri Lanka’s seamers that had earlier given the visitors a chance. Without any cloud cover, swing ceased. But on a grassy pitch, Lahiru Gamage and Suranga Lakmal used the prevailing seaming conditions to bowl India out for 172 by lunch. Dilruwan Perera chipped in with a double-wicket over to remove Ravindra Jadeja and Wriddhiman Saha, India’s only set batsmen on the third day.

Resuming on 47, Cheteshwar Pujara swept a wayward delivery from Rangana Herath to move to one of his toughest Test fifties at home. The sun came out soon after, and India’s overall outlook seemed brighter.

That was when Pujara erred for the first time this Test, mentally more than in technique. Overhead conditions had improved drastically, but underfoot it remained treacherous. Pujara poked at a full delivery from Gamage, with bat away from pad as opposed to his bat-close-to-body approach over the first two days, possibly aware that swing had ceased. It created a big bat-pad gap. The ball jagged back prodigiously after pitching and uprooted off stump.

Saha, at the other end, displayed terrific awareness of which deliveries to play. He routinely let full, wide balls go, but went after fuller, wider deliveries, hitting six fours in his 29. Along with Jadeja, who also picked only either full or wide deliveries to attack, carried India past 100, their first landmark of the day in a 48-run stand, the highest of the innings.

Dilruwan, introduced in the 44th over, began with non-turning offbreaks on a grassy pitch. He quickly adjusted, under-cutting his offbreaks to generate drift, not spin, to open up the outside edge.

He was successful immediately. He had Jadeja lbw to a ball that slid on to strike his pad before bat. Umpire Joel Wilson’s not-out verdict was overturned on review. Three balls later, Saha top-edged an attempted sweep onto his forearm, which lobbed to slip.

India’s tail swung freely, carrying them from 128 for 8 to 172, but as Sri Lanka’s middle order showed, it may be under-par.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.