Pujara half century takes India to 119/4 at lunch on Day 2

Pujara half century takes India to 119/4 at lunch on Day 2

A fighting Cheteshwar Pujara struck his seventh Test fifty and helped India reach 119 for four at lunch on day two of the third and final cricket Test against Sri Lanka here today.

Pujara was batting on 55 (138 balls, 6x4) after adding 55 runs for the fourth wicket with Rohit Sharma (26; 65 balls, 3x4, 1x6) who fell at the stroke of lunch break as India added 69 runs from 30.5 overs in the second morning session at the Sinhalese Sports Club.

The day began 15-minutes early as stipulated for the remainder of this Test match, and the Sri Lankan bowlers were immediately on top. The ball was only 15 overs old as India started again from their day one score of 50/2.

Dhammika Prasad (2/32) and Nuwan Pradeep (1/20) got good purchase from the still-fresh pitch. The former looked especially threatening throughout the morning session and was really unlucky not to have picked up more wickets.

He had two huge shouts for LBW against Virat Kohli (18) in the very first over of the day, and the first one a very close call, but umpire Nigel Llong did not accept the bowler's appeals.

At the other end, Pradeep also made Pujara hop and skip as the ball took off from a good length, displaying the differentiating bounce in the pitch. India's scoring rate was very slow of course as it was a tough first hour's play, with only six runs coming off the first five overs.

The Pujara-Kohli combine brought up their 50-partnership in the 23rd over, and then immediately Angelo Mathews (1/8) dismissed Kohli, who was caught behind chasing a wide ball outside the off-stump. Keeper Kusal Perera, who had dropped Kohli on 8 yesterday, did not make any mistake this time and gleefully accepted this chance.

Rohit walked in to join Pujara at the other end as Rangana Herath (0/37) came on. He looked to attack the spinner immediately, going over the top a couple of occasions, and hitting him for a six as well. This positive intent rubbed off on Pujara as well and runs started flowing in the latter half of the session. The first hour of play yielded just 22 runs at the expense of one wicket in 15 overs. 

Playing with soft hands against pacers, Pujara opened up against the spinners as well, stepping out of the crease time and again. He was severe on Tharindu Kaushal (0/17) smacking three fours in his very first over as India crossed the 100-run mark in the 41st over. Two overs later, the Saurashtra batsman reached his half-century off 127 balls.

Their 50-run partnership came off 117 balls as Kaushal was hit out of the attack after only a couple of overs. Prasad then returned for one last spell before the lunch break and got instant purchase from the pitch.

Just when it appeared that the two Indian batsmen would go safely into the lunch break, Rohit went hard at an outswinger and edged the ball to first slip, thus handing the initiative back to Lanka.

On day one yesterday, Sri Lanka had won the toss and elected to field first, but only 15 overs were possible after persistent rains washed out the remaining day's play. 


India (first innings)
Lokesh Rahul b Prasad 2
Cheteshwar Pujara not out 55
Ajinkya Rahane lbw b Pradeep 8
Virat Kohli c Perera b Mathews 18
Rohit Sharma c Tharanga b Prasad 26

Extras (w 2, nb 3, penalty 5) 10

Total (4 wickets; 46 overs) 119

Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Rahul, 0.2 overs), 2-14 (Rahane, 3.4), 3-64 (Kohli, 23.3), 4-119 (Rohit Sharma, 45.5)

Bowling
Dhammika Prasad 13-3-32-2   
Nuwan Pradeep 12-4-20-1   
Angelo Mathews 8-5-8-1   
Rangana Herath 11-2-37-0   
Tharindu Kaushal 2-0-17-0   



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