Sri Lanka vs India: Hosts struggling to save match after Day 2 as India take pole position
India built on their advantage from Day 1’s play in the ongoing first Test at Galle, piling on a lead of 192 runs before putting in Sri Lanka to bat again with the last few minutes remaining of Day 2, and dismissing both Lankan openers for ducks.
Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan frustrated the Lankan bowlers in the first session, both reaching centuries and bringing up a record third-wicket stand for India against Sri Lanka. The uninspired Sri Lanka team was led by Lahiru Thirimanne before the lunch break, with Angelo Mathews indisposed with flu.
In the same over that Kohli reached his 11th Test century, he fell lbw to Tharindu Kaushal on 103, trapped attempting a sweep shot. Kaushal struck in his next over as well, removing Ajinkya Rahane for a duck.
Sri Lanka looked a more incisive unit in the last hour of the afternoon session, with Tharindu Kaushal bowling with renewed vigour and Rangana Herath keeping it tight at the other end. Sri Lanka were on way to making a comeback.
With three overs to go before the tea break, Shikhar Dhawan was out playing a tired shot, being late in bringing down his bat and dragging the ball back onto the stumps. He walked back to a standing ovation, having played a valuable knock of 134 – the only left-hander in the team scoring a ton on ‘International Left Handers Day’.
Ravichandran Ashwin’s short-lived stay at the crease yielded 7 runs, leaving Wriddhiman Saha and Harbhajan Singh to come out to bat after tea with the score at 304/6.
Wriddhiman Saha played a composed innings to reach his maiden Test fifty, before being given out caught behind on 60 – replays showing that the ball had not hit his bat, but only his helmet. Saha went back disappointed, but this meant that India had a few overs to bowl at Sri Lanka in the last few minutes of the day, and pile some more pressure on the hosts.
India were all out for 375, having gained a first innings lead of 192. Tharindu Kaushal’s 5/134 was the best bowling figures from the Sri Lanka side, who despite being expensive, broke the partnership between Kohli and Dhawan – the partnership that threatened to take the game beyond Sri Lanka’s reach.
Dimuth Karunaratne’s defence was broken through by Ashwin in the very first over, and Dhammika Prasad was brought on at No.3 as nightwatchman. Opener Kaushal Silva fell to Amit Mishra's googly in the very next over. Kumar Sangakkara came on to partner the nightwatchman, as the hosts finished the day on 5/2.
With the pitch offering a lot of turn and bounce, and three more days remaining, Sri Lanka are looking down the barrel with 8 wickets left – and a deficit of 187 runs.