India-Lanka in attritional battle

India-Lanka in attritional battle

Hosts labour to 140/3 after dismissing Kohli's men for fighting 393 on day two

India-Lanka in attritional battle
India and Sri Lanka battled hard on an attritional day of cricket but neither managed to gain ascendancy in the second Test match here on Friday.

After being bowled out for 393 in 114 overs just minutes after lunch, the Indian bowlers presented a disciplined performance on a sweltering day but the Sri Lankan batsmen stood up to the task by reaching 140/3 at stumps on day two at the P Sara Oval with Lahiru Thirimanne (28 batting) and captain Angelo Mathews (19 batting) unseparated.

Despite seeing all the hard work of the morning session dissipate in three quick overs when left-arm spinner Rangana Herath removed the set Wriddhiman Saha (56, 117b, 6x4) and Ishant Sharma of successive overs, the Indians came roaring back with the ball in their hands.

New-ball bowler Umesh Yadav sent an out-of-sorts Dimuth Karunaratne (1) packing with his very first delivery — the second over of the Sri Lankan innings. He swung the ball in sharply and while the only question was whether it would miss the leg stump, umpire Rod Tucker had no hesitation in raising his index finger.

Kumar Sangakkara, given a guard of honour by the Indian team and the two on-field umpires, then set about rebuilding the early damage in the company of Kaushal Silva. With both Ishant Sharma and Yadav bowling tight lines and in-form spinner R Ashwin also procuring some good turn and bounce without much luck, both Sangakkara and Silva sweated it out in contrasting fashion.

While Sangakkara, despite being dropped by Ajinkya Rahane at first slip, looked his usual solid self, Silva struggled at the other end. He was lucky to extend his stay in the middle when his dismissal of Stuart Binny’s very first ball was ruled not out for a no-ball.

A couple of edges flew off his bat as the hard-working Indians failed to the get the returns for all their effort. The runs didn’t come at a fair clip too but in the assured company of Sangakkara at the other end, Silva bit his teeth and hung in to keep India at bay.

Ashwin finally provided the much-needed breakthrough for India, thanks to the brilliance of Rahane. The Mumbaikar, who took a record eight catches in the first match, dived full length to his left to complete a stunning catch and pack off Sangakkara for a well made 32 (87b, 4x4).

Not perturbed by the dismissal, Silva (51, 118b, 8x4) went about his job in gritty fashion. Although not meddling the ball well for the better part of the innings, the 29-year-old went on to register his ninth half-century. But he threw away his wicket soon after when an attempted sweep of Amit Mishra saw the ball take a top edge straight to Ashwin at short fine leg as the hosts were reduced to 114/3.

Sensing an opening with still around 45 minutes left, the Indians tried to land a couple of more blows what with Thirimmanne in the middle of a rut. However, the stylish left-hander held fort and forged an unbeaten 26-run partnership with Mathews to keep them in the game.

Earlier, at the start, Mathews got the hosts to a perfect beginning when the skipper had Ashwin dismissed rather tamely in just the third over of the day to leave India at 321/7. But Mishra, a handy batsman in domestic cricket, and Saha showed good character to help India post a competitive score.

Saha, mixing caution with aggression, rode his luck at the start before settling down after realising Mishra’s abilities with the bat. They offered no chances to the Sri Lankans but in deciding to block most things, the run rate rarely touched the three per over mark.

Mishra departed when his attempted poke of Dushmantha Chameera resulted in a fine edge to wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal. Saha then raised his second straight half-century just before lunch as India inched towards the 400-run mark.

Herath, the go-to man for Mathews in this series, delivered right after lunch with his double blow to restrict India within that. From thereon, the two teams fought in measured fashion to share the honours on a slow-paced day.

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