Colombo: Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane survived some torrid bowling as India battled to 70/1 at stumps in their second innings on the third day of the second cricket Test against Sri Lanka at the P. Sara Oval here on Saturday.
Ajinkya Rahane. Pic/ AFP
Despite being forced on the defensive by some incisive Lankan bowling, Vijay (39 not out) and Rahane (28 not out) ensured that India had accumulated a lead of 157 runs by the close of the day's play. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 306 in their first innings, conceding a 87-run lead.
The visitors' second essay was off to a rocky start when Lankan speedster Dhammika Prasad outfoxed K.L. Rahul with an incoming delivery in the very first over. The ball slipped through the gap between bat and pad before crashing onto the stumps.
Prasad continued to trouble the Indian batsmen along with fellow pacer Dushmantha Chameera and the spin duo of Rangana Herath and Tharindu Kaushal. But Vijay and Rahane survived a couple of close calls to ensure that the visitors did not lose any more wickets till the end.
For the hosts, Prasad was the most successful bowler on the day with figures of 1-12. The 32-year-old right-armer stuck to a tight line and length and managed to extract appreciable movement off the pitch.
Earlier, leg-spinner Amit Mishra picked up four wickets as the Indian bowlers sliced through Sri Lanka's lower order. The hosts lost their last seven wickets for 65 runs.
The visitors dismissed the last three Lankan batsmen within five overs after tea to clinch a first innings lead of 87 runs.
Mishra returned figures of 4-43 while Ishant (2-68), off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (2-76), Stuart Binny (1-44) and Umesh Yadav (1-67) were also among the wickets.
Resuming at the overnight score of 140/3, the Lankans rode on a 127-run stand from Angelo Mathews (102) and Lahiru Thiramanne (62) to frustrate the Indian bowlers in the morning session.
India started the day with Ishant and Binny bowling in tandem. Mathews went after the latter and his very first over of the day yielded two boundaries.
The Indian bowlers thereafter tried to stick to a tight line and length and were successful in inducing a few false strokes and edges.
But the visitors were not able to capitalise on those since some did not carry and others that did, flew past the close fielders.
Thirimanne took a liking to Ashwin and whenever the tweaker erred in length, the left-hander crashed him to the ropes.
Both batsmen got to their individual fifties without facing too many problems. Once the leather lost its shine, it did not move too much and the duo easily tackled the Indian bowling.
Ishant finally ended the partnership when Thirimanne edged an attempted drive to wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.
Ishant also removed Dinesh Chandimal soon after Mathews completed his sixth Test century with a reverse sweep off Ashwin.
The Sri Lankan captain, however, became Binny's first Test victim and Mishra removed Prasad in the next over to peg back the hosts.