Sri Lanka vs India: Cheteshwar Pujara's fighting century helps India gain the upper hand at stumps on Day 2
Cheteshwar Pujara’s fighting century along with a brilliant effort by tailender Amit Mishra who scored 59, helped India post 292/8 at stumps on day two of the 3rd Test between India and Sri Lanka at the SSC Colombo. Having started the day well, Sri Lanka failed to capitalise on the advantage they had gained on the lively pitch.
Dhammika Prasad was the pick of the bowlers for the Sri Lankans picking up three wickets on Day 2 to go along with the wicket of KL Rahul on Friday. Pujara’s unbeaten knock of 135, however, means India have the upper hand in the deciding Test.
Blue skies welcomed the players at the start of play with no indications of showers that had restricted the opening day’s play to just 15 overs. The hosts began from where they left off and had a close leg before wicket appeal against Virat Kohli turned down in the very first over. The Indian skipper kept feeling at deliveries outside the off stump and his luck finally ran out as he nicked a full one from his Sri Lankan counterpart Angelo Mathews’ gentle outswinger to be dismissed for 18.
Rohit Sharma who was preferred to Pujara in the opening two Test matches came in to join the Saurashtra man at the crease and could have lost his wicket early moment after a moment of madness. He stepped down and lofted a ball from Rangana Herath which narrowly managed to escape Nuwan Pradeep who was fielding at mid-on. Sharma though was undeterred and got the shot right second time around with a six in the same region before two delightful boundaries to the mid-wicket region.
At the other end, Pujara played a trademark patient innings and along with Sharma seemed to have taken India to lunch without further damage having brought up the 100 run mark for the visitors. However, Sharma failed to build on his start and was dismissed for 26 in a manner reminiscent to Kohli in the final over of the morning session.
India suffered a further setback right after lunch with Stuart Binny heading back to the pavilion for a golden duck. The hosts were definitely on top at the moment and with debutant Naman Ojha joining Pujara out in the middle, the senior pro took matters into his own hand. Having reached his half-century just before lunch, Pujara stepped up the scoring post lunch, especially after Ojha’s first Test innings came to a disappointing end with his score on 21.
Amit Mishra offered Pujara the support that was expected of Ravichandran Ashwin, with the latter dismissed cheaply for five. The leg-spinner who himself made a comeback to the Indian side in this series after a gap of four years showed that he can be useful with the bat as well scoring an elegant 59 of 87 balls. He would be disappointed at gifting his wicket after stepping down to the wicket to Herath only to be out stumped.
The 104-run partnership not only helped India get out of trouble, but put India slightly ahead and Pujara and Ishant Sharma played out the remaining overs of the day before rain brought an early close to the day's play yet again.