India took the stronghold of the second Test against Sri Lanka after piling up 622 for 9 wickets before R Ashwin took two wickets with Sri Lanka making only 50 runs. Sri Lanka are still 572 runs behind India with three days to go.
R Ashwin got off the mark with an drive which was not in control but he still got a four. He looked in more control as his innings progressed and he punished the Sri Lanka bowlers. He also had a good look of the pitch during his 54-run innings. As puff of dust began coming off it, Ashwin would have enjoyed it rather than being anxious about them.
A strong lower-order batting performance, including that of Ashwin, from India saw them post their seventh 600-plus total in last 12 months and second in two Tests as Virat Kohli left Sri Lanka 20 overs to survive on after declaring India’s first innings on 622 for 9 on day two of the second Test in Colombo.
And it proved too much for Sri Lanka as they lost two wickets for 50 runs and still needed 372 runs to avoid the follow-on. Kusal Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal were the two unbeaten batsmen for Sri Lanka.
Ashwin removed both Sri Lanka openers in his spell of 10 overs after opening the bowling. Upul Tharanga was caught at short-leg after he played one straight to KL Rahul off a short ball which could have been put away anywhere. Rahul hung on to the catch which hit him right in the abdomen.
Dimuth Karunaratne got a beautiful delivery on the off-side for which he leaned forward only to get an outside edge and get caught at slips. He made half of Sri Lanka’s score on Friday and moved his feet nicely.
This was after Indian batsmen had done that all day and piled runs with ease. Not only the overnight batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, but lower order batsmen also used the same technique to disturb Sri Lanka bowlers’ line and length.
India lost their first centurion Pujara for 133 early in the day Sri Lanka’s bowling change worked. The only pacer in the lineup Nuwan Pradeep did not take the field. So, Sri Lanka bowled with Karunaratne and he got one to move back into Pujara who was struck on the pads. Umpire said no to the appeal.
The hosts reviewed after wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella insisted. Hitting Pujara on the back leg, the ball was crashing into the leg stump and Pujara had to walk back.
India stuck with Ashwin at number five and he joined Rahane in the middle. As soon as Rahane looked to unleash, he was undone as Malinda Pushpakumara picked up his maiden Test wicket. He would be proved of the way he got it. Pushpakumara gave the delivery some flight and Rahane, already down the pitch, could not counter the dip and missed the delivery. Niroshan Dickwella did not take much time to remove the bails.
India went into Lunch at 442 for 5 and when Ashwin and Saha resumed, it did not take them time to reaslise that the pitch was not assisting the spinners. Saha used his feet to a great extent which Ashwin was rocked solid in the crease.
He completed his half-century and 2000 Test runs, becoming the fastest to reach the milestone with 250 wickets. But, he was out the next delivery as Rangana Herath bowled a quicker one which Ashwin, trying to cut, missed and was bowled.
But India’s strong lower-order with Ravindra Jadeja coming at number nine continued to torment the bowlers. Jadeja scored one of India’s six half-centuries, a feat achieved only second time in away Tests, as India scored 100 or more runs in a session for the fifth time in this series. Only the first session is where India missed the mark but they managed 98 in that.
Hardik Pandya played a cameo of run-a-ball 20 but was caught at long-off playing a big shot. This was after Saha had come down the pitch to a ball that drifted, dipped and then bounced to beat him. He was stumped after his half-century.
A few lusty blows by Mohammed Shami took the total close to 600 before Jadeja took the team there. After 600 in the Galle Test, India once again took their total past that mark. No team has achieved scored 600-plus totals more than India in Tests in the past one year. India have lost none of the Test as well.
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