By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Cheteswaran Pujara playing his first Test since the Boxing Day Test against Australia at Melbourne last year made up for lost time with a defiant unbeaten 135 to take India from a shaky 119-5 to a respectable 292 for eight wickets at the end of the second day of the third and final Test against Sri Lanka at the SSC grounds.
Pujara promoted to open the innings because of injuries to regular openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay, played the role to perfection to frustrate the Lankan bowlers for more than seven hours to complete his seventh hundred in Test cricket.
When rain drove the players for an early finish to the day with 12.3 overs remaining to be bowled Pujara had hit 12 fours in his 277-ball stay at the wicket. The opening day’s play saw only 15 overs bowled due to bad weather.
More annoying than Pujara’s defiance which Sri Lanka had to put up was the partnerships he built up with the tailenders.
Wicket-keeper Naman Ojha making his debut helped Pujara in a stand of 54 by scoring 21 and Amith Mishra took India closer to the 300-run mark by raising the total by 104 for the eighth wicket.
Mishra lucky to survive a few close calls at the start of his innings settled down to play some handsome pulls and drives in compiling his third Test half-century – 59 off 87 balls (7 fours).
Rangana Herath ended the stand by having Mishra stumped by Kusal Perera off an inside edge for his first wicket of the innings after conceding 86 runs in 23 overs.
Pujara stood tall making use of a dropped catch at 117 by Pradeep at long leg off Mathews to further frustrate Sri Lanka with Ishant Sharma on two.
Prasad was the pick of the Lankan bowlers ending the day with four wickets for 83 but he deserved more the number of times he kept beating the bat with movement both ways.
The three-match series stands at one-all.
|India 1st innings||R||B||4s||6s||SR|
|KL Rahul||b Prasad||2||2||0||0||100.00|
|CA Pujara||not out||135||277||13||0||48.73
|AM Rahane||lbw b Pradeep||8||13||2||0||61.53|
|V Kohli*||c †Perera b Mathews||18||60||3||0||30.00|
|RG Sharma||c Tharanga b Prasad||26||65||3||1||40.00|
|STR Binny||lbw b Prasad||0||1||0||0||0.00|
|NV Ojha†||c Tharanga b Kaushal||21||54||3||0||38.88|
|R Ashwin||c †Perera b Prasad||5||14||1||0||35.71|
|A Mishra||st †Perera b Herath||59||87||7||0||67.81
|I Sharma||b Herath||6||9||0||1||66.66
|UT Yadav||b Herath||4||14||0||0||28.57|
|Extras||(lb 2, w 3, nb 6, pen 5)||18|
|Total||(lb 2, w 4, nb 7, pen 5)||312|
|(3.11 runs per over)|
Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Rahul, 0.2 ov), 2-14 (Rahane, 3.4 ov), 3-64 (Kohli, 23.3 ov), 4-119 (RG Sharma, 45.5 ov), 5-119 (Binny, 45.6 ov), 6-173 (Ojha, 60.6 ov), 7-180 (Ashwin, 65.1 ov), 8-284 (Mishra, 92.2 ov)
To bat: U Yadav
|KTGD Prasad||26||4||100||4||3.84||115||13||0||(4nb, 1w)|