Vijay, Pujara see off tough session

India 97 for 1 (Vijay 56*, Pujara 33*) trail Sri Lanka 205 by 108 runs
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Cheteshwar Pujara sets off for a run © BCCI

Take out the excessive assistance from the Kolkata surface, and the first session of day two in Nagpur might have been Sri Lanka’s best with the ball. They stayed disciplined, three of the five bowlers asked tough questions of the batsmen, there was just enough assistance from the pitch, but by the end of it they were yet to find a way past India’s two most valuable Test batsmen in recent times, M Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara. Already the 10th-most prolific pair for India, they were behind only Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid for most runs for the second wicket for India.

Vijay had to endure a testing first hour and had some luck going his way, which opening batsmen sometimes need, but Pujara hardly made an error in the session. Suranga Lakmal, Rangana Herath and a much improved Lahiru Gamage kept troubling the batsmen in the first hour – 36 runs came in the first 18 overs – but Vijay broke free when Sri Lanka went to their second line: Dasun Shanaka and Dilruwan Perera. Pujara, too, fancied some Dilruwan, dancing down to drive between mid-on and midwicket, and then cutting the consequent shorter delivery. Fifty came off the next 13 overs.

It had been hard work until then. Lakmal and Gamage gave nothing away early. Vijay was forced to defend, defend and defend. When he looked to manufacture a shot, he offered a half chance for a catch at short leg and also a full chance for a run-out because he had stepped out too far. Wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella, who seemed to have left his station to attempt a rebound off the short leg’s body, could have completed the run-out had he stayed put. As it turned out, a direct hit was needed, and Sadeera Samarawickrama missed from short leg.

In the next over, Vijay bat-padded a short-arm pull, but wide of short leg. Three overs later, Herath played with his inside and outside edges without creating a chance. Two overs later, Vijay fended at a short ball but the leading edge fell short of point. All this happened during a spell of four maiden overs, which was broken not with a rash stroke – as the Sri Lanka batsmen did on day one – but with a single to deepish mid-on. The introduction of Shanaka brought two cover-driven boundaries for Vijay. Dilruwan began with a plum half-volley, which got dispatched too.

There were only two errors from the batsmen in the rest of the session. Vijay ran down at Dilruwan but his edge cleared mid-off. Pujara followed an offbreak that didn’t turn, but the edge fell short of slip. That didn’t slow the scoring rate. By lunch Vijay had gone from 26 off 86 to 56 off 129, even as Pujara maintained a more moderate acceleration.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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