Just when, he should have thought of preparing himself for the next day, Rohit Sharma fell leg before to Mathews. It was a similar delivery that the Sri Lanka skipper had used against Rohit in the first test. Rohit, however, had done the job by scoring 79 but his wicket yielded a psychological advantage to Sri Lanka to end the first day on a positive note. Earlier in the morning, India began disastrously by losing the comeback man Murali Vijay and star performer Ajinkya Rahane but Lokesh Rahul and Virat Kohli repaired the damage with a 164-run third wicket stand. After Kohli departed, India’s batsmen conducted themselves adequately to finish the day at 319/6 with Rohit getting out of the last ball being the only blot.
On the first day morning of Colombo’s second test match, India’s decision to bat first indicated a shift from bowling-dominated stance to one based on their batting strength. But the immediate results looked ominous. The much-hyped capability of Murali Vijay about his batting performance in overseas matches lay crumbled with his getting out in the first over. Dhammika Prasad produced an in-swinger that beat Vijay completely and as the ball struck his pads, it was clear that the batsman should be on his way. If the ball had swung away, Vijay could possibly have covered it but that didn’t happen as India were in early trouble at 4/1. It got worse, when Prasad struck again in the fifth over. One-drop batsman Ajinkya Rahane, perhaps the lynchpin of India’s batting these days, fell to an ordinary ball. It was a widish delivery, to which Rahane played away from his body, rather than leaving it alone. The end result was a cheap gift to Sri Lanka as the inside edge was smartly snapped up by Karunaratne. At 12/2 it looked like India were headed to a batting disaster akin to their second innings’ show at the Galle test and batting first after winning the toss was a huge error.
However, the third wicket pair of Lokesh Rahul and Virat Kohli put their heads down and batted purposefully for the next 39 overs. They managed to extract India out of hot waters with a fine 164-run stand, although there were some close chances against them. The two batsmen grew in confidence as the ball lost shine. After 10 overs, the ball also lost its shape and had to be replaced. As time progressed, the pitch also lost the juice and behaved like a good batting strip. At lunch, Rahul had made 39 and Kohli 48. After lunch, Lokesh Rahul overtook Kohli and reached his fifty with a delectable boundary off Dhammika Prasad that flew between the short cover and mid-off. Kohli had some anxious moments, when he played away from the body and on one occasion, he almost lost his wicket, when an outside edge fell just short of the first-slip fielder. After surviving that incident, Kohli didn’t falter and along with Rahul forced the Sri Lankan bowling to buttress India’s score. Even as Sri Lanka had a concern about breaking the partnership, Kohli tried a late-cut against a fuller ball from Rangana Herath and fell to a catch at first slip.
Fall of Kohli brought the spring back for Sri Lankan fielders and Herath produced a few balls that kept the new batsman Rohit Sharma quiet. Rohit would have gone, if Herath had installed a silly point. The Sri Lankan spinner had Rohit in trouble, when the batsman came forward to defend and the ball popped up to the vacant silly point. However, Rahul and Rohit didn’t separate until the 60th over, when Rahul departed after scoring a well-deserved century, his second in just 4 test matches.
The new batsman Stuart Binny had a torrid time in his 40-ball stay at the crease. He probably felt relieved in getting out for 10 runs, when he jumped out to a spinning ball from Herath and holed out to long-off. That made it 267/5 for India, Rohit Sharma and Wriddhiman Saha carried the innings forward from that point onward but Rohit’s dismissal of the last ball of the day brought Sri Lanka back in the game with India ending at 319/6.
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