India tighten the noose

India tighten the noose

Kohli's men post a huge 600 all out; reduce Sri Lankans to 154/5 at stumps

India tighten the noose
Having put up a commanding batting display on the opening day, India gained further ascendency in the first Test with an equally impressive bowling performance.

Led by a brave-heart show from pacer Nuwan Pradeep (6/132), Sri Lanka prised out India’s remaining seven wickets for the addition of 201 runs on the second day. It was an impressive effort if looked in isolation but the damage Lanka had suffered on Wednesday was so significant that the visitors still ended up posting their highest total in Sri Lanka.

Overnight 399 for three, India went on to amass 600 all out in 133.1 overs. Having topped a 600 total in the island nation for the first time, India inflicted more damage with the ball to leave the home team teetering at 154 for five at close on the second day here at the Galle International Stadium on Thursday. Still 446 runs behind India’s massive total, Lanka need another 247 runs to avoid follow-on, a task that appears unachievable at the moment.  

Pacers Mohammad Shami (2/30) and Umesh Yadav (1/50) bowled with pace and discipline and got the new ball to jag around a bit. Umesh drew first blood by dismissing Dimuth Karunaratne with an inswinging delivery which was hurled at almost 145 kmph. The left-hander looked plumb but after consulting his partner Upul Tharanga, reviewed Bruce Oxenford’s original decision only to see the ball crash into the middle of middle stump in replays.

Tharanga, though, unleashed an array of exquisite drives through the off-side off both the pacemen as Lanka left for tea at 38/1. Upon resumption, Danushka Gunathilaka too joined the party and Lanka scored at a rapid pace belying the score-board pressure. Just when the hosts thought they could blunt India’s edge with this attacking approach, Shami struck twice in the same over to drive them to the wall. Having spent almost nine hours chasing their own shadows in unforgiving conditions, Lanka were expected crack sooner than later and they did so despite good batting conditions.

Gunathilaka edged one to Shikhar Dhawan at first slip and in an action replay of sorts, Kusal Mendis nicked the paceman to the same fielder at the same position three balls later. A half-century partnership between Tharanga and Angelo Mathews briefly stemmed the rot before the run-out of the former. Niroshan Dickwella didn’t last long, edging an Ashwin off-spinner to an alert Abhinav Mukund who pulled off an excellent one-handed catch at silly point. Dilruwan Perera survived the last few overs in the company of Mathews (54 batting, 92b, 8x4, 1x6) on whom rest Lanka’s hopes of putting semblance of a fight.     
        
Though overnight batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara (153, 382m, 265b, 13x4) and Ajinkya Rahane completed their respective milestones, they were dismissed in quick succession, opening up a chance for Lanka to put an early end to India’s innings. The lower-order, however, put up a creditable show with R Ashwin (47, 79m, 60b, 7x4) and debutant Hardik Pandya (52, 87m, 49b, 5x4, 3x6) leading the charge. After stopping Pujara-Rahane association at 137, Lanka’s hopes of running through the tail were dashed emphatically by the plucky lower order. As many as 147 runs were scored for the last five wickets as Pandya and Shami (30) went berserk while Ashwin essayed a typically well-paced knock.

On a surface, where Pradeep ploughed a lone furrow, the lanky bowler was rewarded handsomely. On both days, he was the only Lankan bowler who looked like taking wickets and troubled the Indian batsmen with well-directed short-pitched deliveries. After dismissing Virat Kohli with a rising ball on Wednesday, the right-arm quick repeated the act against a well-set Ashwin to complete his five-wicket haul before cleaning up Jadeja.
  
So far, Pradeep’s effort with the ball has been the only bright spot for Lanka who otherwise have been lacklustre on the first two days.
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