Ind v SL: Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav provide India hope with two wickets each
Half centuries from Thirimanne and Mathews help visitors take upper hand on Day Three of the first Test at Eden Gardens, but Bhuvi, Umesh provide India hope with two wickets apiece
The much-anticipated backlash took a while coming on Saturday, the early untidiness allowing Sri Lanka to creep up to within seven runs of India's paltry first innings total of 172 with six wickets in hand. The Indians, adding 98 runs to their overnight 74 for five while losing the remaining five wickets, failed to find the early intensity the situation demanded on a murky afternoon of the rain-hit first Test. The opening bowlers took time to hit the right lengths on a wicket that still had something for the seamers, a regulation catch went down and the fielding showed a shoddy side on more occasions than the hosts would have liked.
India pacer Umesh Yadav claimed the last two wickets of the day
The Lankans made the most of the early waywardness to settle down and reach a comfortable 165 for four when bad light ended the third day's play 41 minutes before schedule. India's hopes of putting up a more challenging total were dealt an early blow when Cheteshwar Pujara, whose watchful innings had held one end up on a lively wicket, saw a vicious off-cutter from Lahiru Gamage slip through his defences soon after he had completed his 16th fifty. Wriddhiman Saha, his overnight partner, added 48 for the seventh wicket with an aggressive Ravindra Jadeja, the latter having to leave when the Lankans used the DRS to overturn a leg-before decision. Saha's long vigil ended on a DRS too, a failed one, as replays revealed the faintest of touches as he tried to sweep off-spinner Dilruwan Perera.
Sri Lanka's Lahiru Thirimanne plays a sweep shot on the third day of the first Test against India at Eden Gardens on Saturday. Pics/PTI
Tailenders Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav swung their bat about to good effect, and India were able to post a respectable total. The Sri Lanka innings got off to a rollicking start, with Sadeera Samarawickrama racing to 23 off 22 as Bhuvneshwar and Shami struggled with line and length. Bhuvneshwar had one jagging back to claim Dimuth Karunaratne, the ball string his front pad outside the off-stump as he shouldered arms. Samarawickrama left soon after, edging Bhuvneshwar to wicketkeeper Saha. One-drop Lahiru Thirimanne, dropped by Shikhar Dhawan off Yadav when he was on 27, went on to score a 94-ball 51 for the visitors, adding 99 for the third wicket with the experienced Angelo Mathews.
The injury-prone former skipper, who has given up bowling, justified his promotion in the batting order with his 28th Test fifty. Beaten every now and then, the two slipped nicely into a calm demeanour to put crucial runs on the board. Thirimanne, who hit eight boundaries, some of them delightful punches off the front foot, finally fell to a diving slip-catch by Virat Kohli.
Mathews suddenly switched to an aggressive mode even as Yadav and Shami found second wind in the post-tea session. Mathews, who had missed the two-Test series against Pakistan in UAE through injury, soon offered a simple catch to cover while driving Yadav on the up. Skipper Dinesh Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella survived a torrid time, and the Indians will have taken heart from that discomfort late in the day. The wicket may have eased somewhat but there is still enough viciousness to
keep the hosts interested. A worrying sight, of course, was Shami leaving the park early with the hint of a limp.
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