Lanka's Lakmal rocks India

Last Updated 16 November 2017, 12:37 IST

Only 11.5 overs were possible on a stop-start opening day's play but those were enough for Sri Lanka to cut open the Indian top-order in the first Test.

Sri Lanka, after electing to bowl first on a greenish wicket, finished the truncated day on an impressive note as they winkled out three of the top Indian batsmen to leave the hosts teetering at 17 for three. Suranga Lakmal claimed all the wickets to fall on the day during a spell of 6-6-0-3.

When the play was called off eventually at 4.20 pm after several stoppages, Cheteshwar Pujara (8 n.o.) and Ajinkya Rahane (0 n.o.) had survived a few anxious moments to stay unbeaten at the crease.      

The play, expectedly, didn't commence at the scheduled time due to persistent drizzle on the eve of the match as the ground staff had to mop up the wet patches. The intermittent drizzle on Thursday repeatedly prevented them from completing the task.

A crowd of about 1500 in a stadium that houses over 60000 went up in cheers when the covers finally came off, setting the start at 1.30 pm, four hours behind the original schedule of 9.30 am. After the National anthems of both the countries were played out, it began drizzling again just when Lakmal was ready at the top of his run-up. Even as covers were being pulled on, it stopped drizzling and the play resumed 14 minutes later.  

It was cloudy, the floodlights were on from the start of play and the greenish pitch offered good bounce. It was as if a day-night Test was being played with a red ball. Picking the red cherry was obviously a difficult task. Lakmal, making most of these helpful conditions after his captain Dinesh Chandimal had opted to bowl first, seamed and swung the ball to prise out both the openers and skipper Virat Kohli.

K L Rahul got an unplayable first delivery from Lakmal to go for a golden duck – the ball that pitched on the off, seamed away with bounce to boot to square up the batsman. The feather was grabbed by Niroshan Dickwella behind the stumps. Sri Lanka couldn't have asked for a better start.

An iffy Shikhar Dhawan followed his opening partner soon into the hut, paying a heavy price for a rank poor shot. The southpaw dragged one from well outside the off-stump on to the stumps off the same bowler to fall cheaply.

Another interruption of 52 minutes followed due to bad light during which tea was taken. Upon resumption, Kohli became the third victim of Lakmal. Having pitched the ball on the off, the right-arm paceman got the ball to shape into the batsman who played for an off-stump line. The ball rapped Kohli on the pad and umpire Nigel Llong raised his finger upon appeal. Kohli went for the review after a customary consultation with Pujara and the decision stayed on umpire's call. Though India got to retain the review, they lost their captain.                            

Lakmal didn't receive the desired support from his new-ball partner Lahiru Gamage who wasted too many deliveries in the initial few overs. Though he troubled the batsmen every now and then later on, the consistency required to hammer home the advantage was missing.  

While there is still a long way to go in the match, India may just be wondering if they missed a trick or two by opting for five bowlers instead of an extra batsman on a juicy surface. India will be hoping Wriddhiman Saha, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja put their hand up and perform. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have picked four bowlers – two seamers and two spinners – and a medium-pace all-rounder in Dasun Shanaka.

(Published 16 November 2017, 08:50 IST)

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