NEW DELHI: For the first time in three days, a full day’s play, well almost, was possible at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens with Sri Lanka gaining a slight edge before play was called off early due to bad light on Saturday. At stumps on Day 3, Sri Lanka were 165/4, trailing India by just seven runs with captain Dinesh Chandimal (13*) batting alongside Niroshan Dickwella (14*).
Match in Pics
Sri Lanka dominated the rain-curtailed opening two days and continue to have an advantage thanks to fifties from Angelo Mathews (52) and Lahiru Thirimanne (51) after Bhuvneshwar Kumar rattled them with two quick blows.
India were bowled out for 172 in their first innings in the morning session as blue skies and bright sun greeted the two sides after two days of inclement weather. And with the sun out in all its glory, the conditions and the pitch visibly turned a little friendly towards the batsmen.
Sri Lankan batsmen made most of the change. Their openers made a bright start – 29/0 in four overs – a boundary in each of them. They were then pegged back by Bhuvneshwar, the best Indian bowler on show. He first trapped Dimuth Karunaratne (8) flush in front and even DRS didn’t help the Sri Lankan as it had come to his rescue an over before against Mohammed Shami. Then Sadeera Samarawickrama, who had scored a run-a-ball 22 with three fours, nicked one to the ‘keeper leaving Sri Lanka at 34/2.
But from thereon, the duo of Thirimanne – a beneficiary of a dropped catch when batting on 27 – and Mathews took over the reins and successfully saw off the nervy phase with edges flying safely. Sandwiched between those edges were crisp driven and perfectly placed boundaries, leaving India captain Virat Kohli frustrated on several occasions. The pair struck half-centuries each and added 99 runs for the third wicket.
Sri Lanka were steadily tightening their grip over the proceedings when Umesh Yadav pulled things back with two wickets in his two consecutive overs. He first induced an edge from Thirimanne with a short delivery that flew to the left of Kohli at second slip who took a brilliant diving catch. Then, Mathews played poor shot, lofting a dolly to the cover fielder, leaving Sri Lanka at 138/4.
Earlier, Cheteshwar Pujara started the morning with a swept boundary to reach his 16th Test half-century – one of his most memorable knocks. But one lapse in an otherwise determined knock proved fatal, as he was cleaned up for 52 by Lahiru Gamage. He allowed an indipper to sneak through the gap between his bat and pad as the ball crashed on the off-stump.
He was the sixth wicket to fall and judging by how other batsmen had fared so far, it seemed the Indian innings will be wrapped up soon but for the pair of Wriddhiman Saha and Ravindra Jadeja who stitched a 48-run partnership for the seventh wicket, taking the score past the 100-run mark.
While Saha looked fidgety on Day 2, the easing conditions allowed him some breather today as he drove and cut with ease. The pitch, without the overhead conditions, was not as venomous as it was before. The Lankan seamers – Suranga Lakmal and Ganage offered width and Jadeja pounced on them with two fours square of the wicket.
Dinesh Chandimal tried his luck with spin bowling, placing offspinner Dilruwan Perera from one end but he was thrashed for a four by Saha to third man and then a six over long-on by Jadeja.
Perera then had the last laugh as he removed the pair within the space of four deliveries – Jadeja pinged in front of middle stump for 22 while Saha top-edging one on 29.
Lakmal then had Bhuvneshwar out caught behind for 13 before the last pair of Shami and Umesh Yadav, frustrated the visitors further with some lusty hits. Shami enjoyed his time in the sun with three fours before being caught at deep midwicket for a 22-ball 24 meaning the Indian innings ended in the first session after the addition of 98 runs and five wickets on the third day. Lakmal finished with figures of 4/26 while Perera, Gamage and Dasun Shanka picked up two wickets each.
For India, Bhuvneshwar was the most incisive among the bowlers while Umesh began erratically before hitting back with two wickets. Shami had several edges flying safely but was expensive, with an economy of over four runs per over. As the day came to an end, he was seen clutching his hammy which forced him off the park.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka
165/4 (Angelo Mathews 52, Lahiru Thirimanne 51; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2/49, Umesh Yadav 2/50) trail
172 (Cheteshwar Pujara 52, Wriddhiman Saha 29; Suranga Lakmal 4/26) by 7 runs