India vs Sri Lanka, 1st Test: SL Put Hosts in Trouble Before Rain Washes Out Day 2
New Delhi: The second day of the Kolkata Test was only marginally better than the first in terms of the length of play possible. After two days at Eden Gardens, only 32.5 overs of play have been possible. The 21 overs on Friday (November 17), however, saw India manage something of a revival – from 17 for 3 at the end of the first day, the hosts reached 74 for 5 helped by Cheteshwar Pujara’s unbeaten 102-ball 47.
Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha had looked solid in their unbroken 24-run stand when the players were forced off by a drizzle. That drizzle morphed into heavier showers that never really abated, forcing play to be called off around 2.25pm.
Rain had mostly stayed away during the previous night, meaning play could start as per schedule on the second morning. After a brilliant first day, when all his six overs were maidens and yielded three wickets, Suranga Lakmal continued in similar vein, notching up a seventh consecutive maiden. He eventually conceded runs in his eighth over, when Ajinkya Rahane’s awkward prod somehow found its way to the fence.
At the other end, Lahiru Gamage was replaced by Dasun Shanaka, and even though the medium pacer struggled for accuracy, he occasionally produced a ripper that took the Indian batsmen by surprise. Pujara drove him to the fence off consecutive deliveries, but in his next over Shanaka tempted Rahane with a slightly wide one and the batsman sent it straight to the fielder.
R Ashwin then walked in, promoted ahead of Saha in a move reflective of his rising reputation as a Test allrounder. He looked the part too, withholding any temptation to poke and prod outside off. And when the loose deliveries came – like they did with Shanaka – he capitalised. Lakmal was largely treated with respect, but the batsmen were allowed runs at the other end and it helped them settle down. The 50-run mark was breached with Pujara driving another one off Shanaka through the covers.
Gamage was then reintroduced, and he promptly struck Ashwin on his thumb with a cracking bouncer. Perhaps that shook him up a bit – he, rather uncharacteristically in his knock, chased Shanaka outside off and sliced one straight to backward point. India were 50 for 5.
Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal then brought on Dimuth Karunaratne, when perhaps he would have been better off using the experience of Rangana Herath. Karunaratne was dispatched to the fence by both Pujara and Saha, and India recovered once again, but just as they were looking to step it up, rain reappeared. It never really relented thereafter, and another promising day of Test cricket was cut short.