India eye biggest innings win as Lanka reach 145/8 at lunch
Nagpur, Nov 27 (PTI) A ruthless India inched towards their biggest innings victory after reducing a lacklustre Sri Lanka to 145 for eight at lunch on the fourth day of the second Test even as off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin closed in on a world record of fastest 300 wickets.
Sri Lanka still need 260 runs to avoid innings defeat with only two wickets in hand. India are firmly in sight of their biggest innings win surpassing their previous innings and 239-run win over Bangladesh at Dhaka in 2007.
Skipper Dinesh Chandimal (53 batting) hit his second half-century and giving him company at the break was Suranga Laknmal (19) who survived a few risky shots.
Ashwin (3/50) is on 299 wickets in his 54th Test match. One more wicket will take him past Dennis Lillees record of fastest 300 wickets in 56 games.
The manner of abject surrender in this Test match would certainly hurt the island nation, which till few years back was a force to reckon in international cricket. Just like the Test matches in Sri Lanka, they lost the Test match well inside three and half days.
Ishant Sharma (2/43 looked menacing as he bowled short and quick while Ravindra Jadeja (2/28) was the beneficiary of some sharp fielding from Murali Vijay and indiscretion from the part of opposition batsmen.
Dimuth Karunaratne (18) was the first to get out when he tried to flick Jadeja and Murali Vijay standing at short leg had the ball jam into him. The Tamil Nadu player showed good reflexes as Karunaratne was left stunned.
Lahiru Thirimanne (23), currently a senior player in the team stunned one and all when he chased a wide delivery from Umesh Yadav to hand Jadeja at point the simplest of catches. It was a shocking dismissal as the ball was on the imaginary sixth stump and should have been left alone.
Former captain Angelo Mathews (10) was expected to show some responsibility while batting alongside Chandimal but his choice of shot also left a lot to be desired.
Having hit Jadeja for a six over long-on, he tried the same shot over long-off but failed to clear Rohit Sharma at mid-off. The former skipper is a pale shadow of his self and questions have been raised about his form and commitment which has been hurting Lankan cricket for some time now.
Mathews used to look a fine player when Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara were around but post their retirement, he has not been able to find his mojo.
The Sri Lankan cricket had expected Mathews to carry on the legacy of Mahela and Sangakkara but over the past two years, he has failed miserably with no significant contribution in Sri Lankan victory.
Niroshan Dickwella (4) got a snorter from Ishant which he awkwardly fended off to Virat Kohli at third slip, who gobbled it on second attempt.
It was then Ashwin, who joined the party after Shanaka hit him across the line for a boundary and a six. But it was an act of desperation that was for a brief period of time before he was holed out at long-on by KL Rahul giving the off-spinner his 297th victim.
Dilruwan Perera and Rangana Herath were then dismissed in quick succession as he closed in on is world record.
For Chandimal, it was all about being helpless watching the manner of dismissals with none of the batsmen showing any stomach for fight. More than the technique, it was the temperament that was questionable considering that the pitch and conditions weren't the most difficult to bat on