India’s three-pronged seam attack of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Stuart Binny had the Sri Lanka first innings in tatters when they grabbed five wickets for 47 runs by lunch on the third day of the third and final Test played at the SSC grounds.
The Lankan top order were all at sea against the moving ball as they attempted to play strokes on a pitch that required grafting and patience as displayed by Indian opener Cheteswar Pujara.
None of the Sri Lankan batsmen dismissed showed the tendency to do that and surrendered their wickets rather tamely against a disciplined attack that tested their capabilities on a pitch of this nature.
Sri Lanka’s experiment with Tharanga as opener failed when his lasted just 23 balls for four runs. He never looked comfortable against Sharma and Yadav and had an early life at nought in the opening over when he edged Sharma to second slip but first slip Lokesh Rahul diving in front spilled the chance after getting both hands to it. However Tharanga didn’t survive for long for four overs later he was out to the same combination with the edge going straight to Rahul who made no mistake.
Kaushal Silva (3) was unlucky to be bowled off the inside edge of his bat by Yadav when he shouldered arms to a rising ball.
Dinesh Chandimal was daring in his batting prepared to take the fight to the opposition instead of trying to hang around and let the bowlers dictate terms. He played some extravagant shots in his knock of 23 off 27 balls which comprised five fours, before Stuart Binny managed to creep one through his defence to have him lbw.
Worst was to follow when Angelo Mathews edged Sharma with just one run against him name and Dimuth Karunaratne batting at one drop chased a delivery which he should have left alone in the final over before lunch and edged a catch to Rahul to give Binny his second wicket of the innings.
Lahiru Thirimanne was unbeaten on nought with debutant Kusal Perera as the last of the recognized batsmen to come.
India’s last two wickets added 20 runs before they were dismissed for 312. It was a fine recovery from the position they were placed in on the second day at 119-5.
Cheteswar Pujara was the key to their recovery scoring an undefeated 145 off 289 balls in a marathon stay of seven and a half hours during which period he hit 14 fours.
Pujara’s effort provided the fourth instance of an Indian opener carrying his bat out in a Test innings after Sunil Gavaskar (127 n.o.) v Pakistan at Faisalabad 1983, Virender Sehwag (201 n.o.) v Sri Lanka (Galle) 2008 and Rahul Dravid (146 n.o.) v England (Oval) 2011.
Rangana Herath picked up both wickets of tailenders Ishant Sharma (6) and Umesh Yadav (4) both bowled, to end with figures of three for 84, while Dhammika Prasad had to be content with another four-wicket haul.
Scores: India 292-8 contd 312 (Cheteswar Pujara 145 n.o., Dhammika Prasad 4/100, R Herath 3/84)
Sri Lanka 47-5 at lunch (Dinesh Chandimal 23, Ishant Sharma 2/2/12, Stuart Binny 2/14).