By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
India took the initiative in the second Test finishing the third day with an overall lead of 157 with nine second innings wickets intact against Sri Lanka at the P Sara Oval.
Having bowled out Sri Lanka for 306 and taken a first innings lead of 87, India ended the day at 70 for one wicket with Murali Vijay unbeaten on 39 and Ajinkya Rahane 28 not out.
The pair denied Sri Lanka of any breakthrough being involved in an unfinished stand of 69 off 171 balls despite a few close decisions that went in favour of India especially with the two spinner Rangana Herath and Tharindu Kaushal operating in tandem since the 15th over till the close barring a short break of one over from Dushmantha Chameera.
It was not easy for the batsmen with both spinners extracting some turn from the pitch and it was a struggle between bat and ball. India wanted to preserve their wickets and didn’t want to take any undue risks which resulted in only three fours being scored in the entire partnership between Vijay and Rahane.
As he had done in the first innings Dhammika Prasad provided Sri Lanka with an early breakthrough with a wicket in his first over. On this occasion he dismissed first innings centurion Lokesh Rahul for two with an inswinger which he inside edged onto his stumps.
Vijay and Rahane managed to survive the rest of the final session to see India through without any further mishaps.
Sri Lanka lost their last five wickets for 22 runs with leg-spinner Amit Mishra accounting for three of them to end with figures of four for 43 off 21 overs.
The Lankan innings went into decline after the Thirimanne-Mathews century partnership was broken. They were at one time riding high at 241-3 before the second new ball resulted in Ishant Sharma breaking through with two wickets and paving the way for Mishra to run through the late order.
Mathews made 102, his sixth Test hundred and Thirimanne scored 62, his second fifty in his last 24 innings, but the rest failed to capitalize on the partnership produced by these two and allowed India to take the initiative.
INDIA 1ST INNINGS 393
SRI LANKA 1ST INNNGS
D Karunaratne lbw b Yadav 1
K Silva c Ashwin b Mishra 51
K Sangakkara c Rahane b Ashwin 32
L Thirimanne c Saha b I Sharma 62
A Mathews c Vijay b Binny 102
D Chandimal c Rahul b I Sharma 11
J Mubarak b Mishra 22
D Prasad c Rahane b Mishra 5
R Herath lbw b Ashwin 1
T Kaushal st Saha b Mishra 6
D Chameera not out 0
Extras (b-2, lb-6, nb-5) 13
Total (all out, 108 overs) 306
Fall of wickets: 1-1 (Karunaratne), 2-75 (Sangakkara), 3-114 ((Silva), 4-241 (Thirimanne), 5-259 (Chandimal), 6-284 (Mathews), 7-289 (Prasad), 8-300 (Mubarak), 9-306 (Herath), 10-306 (Kaushal).
Bowling: I Sharma 21-3-68-2 (nb4), Yadav19-5-67-1, Binny 18-4-44-1 (nb1), Ashwin 29-3-76-2, Mishra 21-3-42-4.
INDIA 2ND INNINGS
M Vijay not out 39
L Rahul b Prasad 2
A Rahane not out 28
Extras (w-1) 1
Total (one wicket at close, 29.2 overs) 70
Fall of wicket: 1-3 (Rahul).
Bowling: Prasad 4-0-12-1, Herath 11.2-3-23-0, Chameera 4-0-14-0 (w1), Mathews 2-1-1-0, Kaushal 8-0-20-0.