A painstaking century by Indian opening batsman Cheteshwar Pujara and a solid half century by leg spinner Amit Mishra saved the visitors some blushes while also giving some insights into a possible series win at the end of the second day of the third and final Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club Grounds yesterday. Mishra [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Pujara halts Lankan hopes


A painstaking century by Indian opening batsman Cheteshwar Pujara and a solid half century by leg spinner Amit Mishra saved the visitors some blushes while also giving some insights into a possible series win at the end of the second day of the third and final Test at the Sinhalese Sports Club Grounds yesterday.

Mishra and Pujara added 104 runs for the eighth wicket and brought respectability into the Indian total. Finally when rain stopped play with twelve overs to go Indians had were on a comfortable 292 for 8 with Pujara unbeaten on 135 with Ishant Sharma not out on 2.

Cheteshwar Pujara was determined to take India forward - Pix by Amila Gamage

The Lankans in their maiden post icon era Test tried hard, but, the SSC wicket which turns into a batting paradise in the second and third days lived to its true potential. The best among the Lankans bowlers was seamer Dhammika Prasad who toiled hard and kept the ball in the right areas on most occasions. He finished the day with figures of 4 for 83 odd 23.3 overs.
Play will resume at 9.45am today.

India’s inning revolved round Pujara who only was opted in to the playing Xl as a result of the Murali Vijay injury. It was mainly a demonstration of patience, the longer he stayed steadier he got, but, never was there even hint of arrogance. Up to his 101 not out at tea, he had 31 singles and eight twos.

The first day’s soggy conditions did not hamper the proceedings and play started on time. However the wet weather helped the Sinhalese Sports Club wicket retain the green tinge that was on from the first day. Yet, the wicket was not a batsman’s nightmare. Pujara who anchored in for a long inning while wickets kept falling at the other end, amply proved that fact.

Herath trundled the first over from the second ball of the 24th over of the game.Though the visitors began the day in a subdue note, playing watchfully they could add only 14 runs to their overnight tally, as the Indian skipper Virat Kohli offered wicketkeeper Kusal Janith Perera the opportunity to cleanse his past sins by offering him a dolly snick off his opposite number Angelo Mathews. The wicket fell at the score of 64 and the batsmen’s personal score on 18, in the ninth over of the day.

After the fall of the wicket of the Indian skipper Kohli, the surviving batsmen opener Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma slowed down the proceedings further. The Lankan bowlers barring off spinner P.H.T. Kaushal who went for 17 runs in two overs were tight, but, were seemingly without luck.

The break came at the stroke of lunch. Paceman Dhammika Prasad who was generating a lot of pace and bounce off the SSC wicket had Rohit Sharma holding out to a ball that moved slightly off the wicket to be held at first slip by Upul Tharanga for 26. The two batsmen added 55 runs for the fourth wicket, but consumed 22 overs to do so. At lunch Pujara was not out on 55.
Prasad – the most improved performer in Lankan ranks in the recent past came up with another beauty in the very first ball after lunch. After having Sharma hanging his bat to ball that took the outside edge, the bowler brought the ball into Stewart Binny to trap the batsman in front in the very first ball he faced.

Paceman Dhammika Prasad took four top wickets

India slumped to a tentative 119 for 5. Wicketkeeper Naman Ojha – the last recognised batsman stayed for a while and added a further 54 runs for the 6thwicket before holing out to long on to be held by Tharanga off spinner P.H.T. Kaushal for 21.
Ravichandran Ashwin’s stay at the crease was a short one. He became Prasad’s fourth victim. He too was caught behind by Kusal Janith Perera for 5.

Leg spinner Amit Mishra — a not so bad bat, then helped Pujara in his endeavour. The two batsmen took the Lankan attack on its merits and batted accordingly. Unlike the previous batsmen Mishra was not shy of going for his shots and countered the Prasad threat well enough. This thus helped Pujara to complete his seventh century in Test cricket in 338 minutes and 214 balls. India walked into tea at 220 for 7.

The second new ball was taken shortly after tea with the Indian total reading 228 for 7 with Nuwan Pradeep operating from the tennis court end. Even the second new ball did not yield the desired results for the Lankan bowlers. From a bleak 119 for 5 the Indians had passed the 250 mark for the loss of only two wickets courtesy Pujara and Mishra. To add to their woes Pujara was given a life on 117 when Nuwan Pradeep let off a catch at deep square-leg off Mathews. The Lankan attack which looked menacing in the early session looked quite lame as the wicket dried. In the midst, Mishra too completed his third Test half century in 16 Test matches.

By the time the Lankan left arm veteran had Mishra stumped by Kusal Janith Perera for 59, the Indians had recovered to a respectable 284 for 8 – a shade too late for Sri Lanka.
India 1st innings
Lokesh Rahul b Prasad 2
(Ball hits the seam, jags back a long way
and bowls the batsman)
Cheteshwar Pujara not out 135
Ajinkya Rahane lbw b Pradeep 8
(Full and fast delivery targeting middle and leg,
struck in line with leg)
Virat Kohli c Perera b Mathews 18
(Reaches too far outside off stump, nicks it to the keeper)
Rohit Sharma c Tharanga b Prasad 26
(Gets the delivery to seam away,
batsman lunges forward, gets a thick edge)
Stuart Binny lbw b Prasad 0
(Fuller length ball, jags it back to hit him on the front pad)
Naman Ojha c Tharanga b Kaushal 21
(Goes for a slog, ends up getting caught in the boundary)
Ravichandran Ashwin c Perera b Prasad 5
(Wide delivery, batsman pushes at it and nicks it to the keeper)
Amit Mishra st Perera b Herath 59
(Steps out to drive, beaten with an inside
edge and eventually stumped)
Ishant Sharma not out 2
Extras (lb2, w3, nb6, pen5) 16
Total (8 wickets; 95.3 overs) 292
To bat: Umesh Yadav
Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Rahul), 2-14 (Rahane), 3-64 (Kohli), 4 -119 (R Sharma), 5-119 (Binny),6-173 (Ojha), 7-180 (Ashwin), 8-284 (Mishra)
Bowling: Dhammika Prasad 23.3-4-83-4 (3nb), Nuwan Pradeep 22-6-52-1(3w), Angelo Mathews 13-6-24-1, Rangana Herath 25-3-81-1, Tharindu Kaushal 12-2-45-1 (3nb)

Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Upul Tharanga, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews (Captain), Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Perera (wk), Dhammika Prasad, Rangana Herath, Tharindu Kaushal, Nuwan Pradeep.
Toss: Sri Lanka won and elected to field

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