IND vs SL Test: No stroll for hosts in Eden Gardens
SL bowlers continue to call the shots as Indian batsmen fail to impress, but rain plays spoilsport again
Only 105 minutes of play was possible on another rain-hit day at the Eden Gardens, but it was time enough for Sri Lanka to inflict further damage and consign India to an uneasy 74 for 5. With the second day's play ending half-an-hour before the scheduled lunch break, more than nine hours have already been lost to the elements. But, on a pitch that has been promoting disconcerting lateral movement and bounce, there is promise yet of a decisive end. Reeling at 17 for three when play started yesterday, the Indians lost Ajinkya Rahane and Ravichandran Ashwin, both falling to aggressive shots that looked out of place under the circumstances. Suranga Lakmal, who had returned with the magical figures of 6-6-0-3 on the opening day, added more maiden overs and it was first-change Dasun Shanaka who snared both wickets to finish with flattering figures.
India's R Ashwin ducks a bouncer on Day 2 of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens in Kolkata yesterday. Pic/PTI
Cheteshwar Pujara, eight overnight, is batting on a 47 that has taken him 102 deliveries while wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha is on six. Having weathered the early storm, Pujara looked increasingly comfortable as he eased into a typically watchful innings. Waiting for the loose deliveries, he scored almost all his runs in boundaries (nine in all) as he nicely created the template for batting on the lively wicket — a template even the opposition would want to use. "He's a world-class player," said Lanka's coach Nic Pothas. "I think he's benefitted from playing county wicket; he certainly played the conditions very well," added the South African as he likened the conditions to those, "in England in April-May."
Play began 15 minutes early and will do so on the remaining days to make up as much as possible for time lost. In overcast conditions, and on a difficult wicket, Rahane and Ashwin paid the price for momentarily abandoning the path of patience that conditions so demanded. The Indian vice-captain edged Shanaka as he launched into a drive to one that was a trifle too short for that shot. Ashwin, struck a painful blow on the thumb of his bowling hand, was caught at point as he tried to pierce the infield. With the injury-prone Nuwan Pradeep not in the squad, the visitors were hamstrung by the lack of suitable personnel in their efforts to keep exploiting the conditions. At times, they fell short on discipline as well.
Lakmal, who failed to have the batsmen play as often as he should have, conceded the first runs when Rahane edged one along the turf to the backward point fence He has conceded just five runs in his 11 overs. Lakmal's new-ball partner Lahiru Gamage looked more potent when he switched to the far end, using the short stuff to good effect. One of them struck Ashwin, and the off-spinner left soon after. Dimuth Karunaratne, more known for his prolific run-scoring, sent down a couple of hopelessly innocuous overs at medium pace and the shackles were loosened.
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