By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Rain ruined the opening day of the decisive third and final cricket Test between Sri Lanka and India at the SSC grounds allowing only 15 overs to be bowled in the first session of play.
Put into bat on a grassy pitch that gave assistance to the bowlers Sri Lanka managed to grab two early Indian wickets before Cheteswar Puja (19) and skipper Virat Kohli (14) looked like settling down after a testing first hour’s play when the heavens opened out and ruled out any further play for the day.
Dhammika Prasad playing on his home turf made the initial breakthrough with the second ball of the match bowling Lokesh Rahul for two as the batsman misread an inswinger and had his stumps disturbed not offering a shot.
Nuwan Pradeep who returned to the side after missing the second Test through injury struck the second blow for Sri Lanka when he trapped Ajinkya Rahane lbw for eight with a full delivery.
Sri Lanka missed out on grabbing a third wicket at 28 when debutant wicket-keeper Kusal Perera failed to hold onto an inside edge offered by Kohli off Pradeep when his score was on eight.
Not only did Sri Lanka blotch the catch it also cost them a penalty of five additional runs as the missed ball rolled on to hit the helmet placed behind the wicket-keeper.
Both Pujara and Kohli survived some testing overs before Mathews switched on to spin in the 15th over.
Prior to the start of the match wicket-keepers Kusal Perera and Naman Ojha were handed their Test caps making it a rare occasion of two wicket-keepers making their Test debuts.
The three-match series is level at one-all with Sri Lanka winning at Galle and India at the P Sara Oval.
INDIA 1ST INNINGS
L Rahul b Prasad 2
C Pujara not out 19
A Rahane lbw b Pradeep 8
V Kohli not out 14
Extras (nb-1, w-1, pen 5) 7
Total (2 wickets at close, 15 overs) 50
Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Rahul), 2-14 (Rahane).
To bat: R Sharma, S Binny, N Ojha, R Ashwin, A Mishra, I Sharma, U Yadav.
Bowling: Prasad 4-0-16-1 (nb1), Pradeep 6-0-16-1 (w1), Mathews 4-2-7-0, Herath 1-0-6-0.
SRI LANKA: D. Karunaratne, K. Silva, U. Tharanga, D. Chandimal, A. Mathews, L. Thirimanne, K. Perera, D. Prasad, R. Herath, T. Kaushal, N. Pradeep.