After the opening day’s wash-out, India’s batsmen either couldn’t sustain the Sri Lankan bowling attack or fell by committing avoidable errors in a test match situation. They ended the second day at 292/8. Come to think of it; Cheteshwar Pujara’s unbeaten 145, unexpected 59 from Amit Mishra and 18 extras in the innings amounted to 222 runs out of 292 in the India’s first innings. That indicates what the rest of the batsmen did. To expect a series win with such careless batting, is like asking for moon, unless the opposition is bent upon offering you the underserved victory on a platter. However, it will be unfair to deny credit to the lone Indian batsman, who stood against the Sri Lanka bowlers and held one end firmly. Pujara had a raw deal in the series since he was kept out to accommodate someone supposedly more useful and to make way for an extra bowler, required in an extremely debatable 5-bowler formula, advocated by the Indian think tank. The pitch at the SSC Colombo ground had uneven grass and it helped Dhammika Prasad in reducing India to 180/7 on the second day. What will the 5-bowlers game-plan do if the batsmen cannot score? Murali Vijay’s hamstring injury proved a blessing in disguise since it brought Pujara in the side. After Lokesh Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane got out by the fourth over, Pujara held one end. Kohli hung around for a while. Finally the India captain fell to his oft-familiar temptation of poking an away-going ball on the offside. After the skipper left India in the lurch, Pujara and Mishra saved the day with a 104-run eighth-wicket stand and the day ended with a more respectable score than a pitiable position projected at one stage after seven batsmen have gone back to the pavilion.
Man-of-the-match in the second test, Lokesh Rahul fell to a poor judgment on his part on the first day morning. Of the second delivery from Dhammika Prasad, Rahul let the ball go, thinking it would miss the stumps. It didn’t and to Rahul’s bad luck and the stumps lay shattered. It was a poor way to start the third test. Rahane was the next man. He struck two boundaries and played 12 balls. On the 13th, he missed Nuwan Pradeep’s fuller ball and took it on his pads, plumb in front. India’s fourth over score of 14/2 was less attributable to Sri Lanka bowling but more self-inflicted. Kohli and Pujara carried the first day until 50/2, when rain halted play.
On the second day, while Pujara held one end, Kohli departed to a rash stroke. All he needed to do was to leave the Angelo Mathews delivery alone. But the juicy ball had Kohli trying to pierce the cover fielders and the temptation resulted in the outside edge, which was smartly gobbled up by Kusal Perera behind the stumps. From 64/3, Pujara and Rohit Sharma progressed to 119, when Sharma also departed to an outside edge from an offside ball. Next man Stuart Binny was LBW on the next ball from Prasad and the bowler stood on the verge of a hat-trick. However, Naman Ojha and Pujara steadied the boat with a 54-run sixth-wicket stand. After batting sensibly, Ojha fell to a needless slog sweep in the ODI fashion. Next batsman Ravichandran Ashwin poked at almost a wide-ball and ended up being caught behind. At 180/7, India looked in deep trouble. However, Pujara found a good company in Amit Mishra and the duo dug India out of trouble to carry the score to 284/8. Mishra scored a fine 59 and India ended the day at 292/8. Pujara remained not out on 145 and his stay is the only promise that India have, as they wait for the third day morning.
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