Free Press Journal

Sangakkara fails in farewell, Lankans end day 2 at 140/3


Colombo: Retiring legend Kumar Sangakkara failed to get a big knock in his swansong Test appearance but Sri Lanka overcame an early jolt to reach 140/3 after dismissing India for 393 in the first innings of the second cricket Test here today. Resuming at the overnight score of 319/6, India were bowled out shortly after the lunch break and the hosts treaded cautiously to keep the match on an even keel at the end of the second day’s play.

Opener Kaushal Silva (51 off 117 balls) played a watchful innings to ensure that the early loss of fellow opener Dimuth Karunaratne did not trigger a top-order collapse. His dismissal towards the fag end of the day, however, put the side slightly on the backfoot given that the home team is still 253 runs behind.

Sangakkara was given a guard of honour by the Indians as he walked in to bat when the hosts lost their first wicket with just one run on the board. However, it did not quite turn out to be a fairytale ending for the veteran batsman, who was dismissed by off- spinner Ravichandran Ashwin for 32 after facing 87 deliveries.

After Sangakkara’s departure, Lahiru Thirimanne (28 batting) and Silva added 39 runs for the third wicket before India took the slight edge by snaring the latter. When stumps were drawn for the day, Thirimanne and skipper Angelo Mathews (19) were holding fort for the Lankans. Earlier, resuming at the overnight score, India were bowled three overs after lunch as Rangana Herath took 4/81.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha, who had scored a 60 in the first Test, played a 56-run knock to take India past the 350 figure. The Indians scored at a slow pace in the morning session as Saha shepherded the lower order to avoid a below-par total in the first innings of this match. The visiting side could pull off a mere 67 runs in this first session of play in 23.4 overs.

The Indians were in fact lucky to survive on more than one occasion. Saha, on his previous evening’s score of 19, was fortunate not to be bowled off the seventh ball of the morning. Dhammika Prasad (2-84) was the unlucky bowler as the ball kissed the off-stump but didn’t dislodge the bail. Six balls later, Lanka did get their first wicket of the morning, with R Ashwin (2) hitting Angelo Mathews (2-24) straight to short extra cover.

Saha survived another close call in the 91st over, Prasad again the unlucky bowler, as his loose shot didn’t quite carry enough to the keeper. TV replays proved sufficient doubt to rule the batsman not out who still hadn’t added a single run to his overnight score. He finally got going on the 14th ball he faced while Amit Mishra (24 runs, 50 balls, three fours) joined him at the other end.

The latter too was lucky to survive, without opening his account off 10 deliveries, when in the 94th over, umpire Bruce Oxenford failed to detect a faint edge to the keeper with Mathews the one to miss out on a wicket this time. With these many lives given, it was no surprise that the batsmen decided to settle down and curb their shots, and run scoring was very slow as a result.

Saha and Mishra built a sluggish partnership of 46 runs for the eighth wicket and it helped India cross the 350-mark in the 101st over of the innings. Just as Mishra looked to open up a bit, he was dismissed caught behind, with Dushmantha Chameera (2-72) getting the breakthrough in the 106th over. Saha then reached his second Test fifty off 106 balls and with Ishant for company, avoided further loss until lunch.

After folding up rather quickly in the post-lunch session, the Indians struck early with the ball but Silva thwarted their visiting bowlers’ attempts to run away with the advantage.

After tea, Silva and Sangakkara looked to continue their partnership for the second wicket, while cutting down on the hiccups. But they were only able to add 10 runs to their teatime total, when R Ashwin (1-37) dismissed the left-hander for the third successive time in this series.

Ajinkya Rahane held a dipping catch to his left as Sangakkara walked off to a standing ovation. Silva then put on 39 runs for the third wicket with Thirimanne as India bowled with pacers from one end, while Ashwin continued from the other. Surprisingly the off-spinner was already into this 12th over while Amit Mishra (1-9) had only been given one over before the tea break. Meanwhile the right-handed opener moved along slowly and scored his ninth Test fifty off 92 balls as the Lankan 100-mark came up in the 36th over.

He could do no more though as Mishra came on to bowl, and dismissed him soon after, the batsman caught at short fine leg as he tried to go for a sweep. Skipper Mathews then joined in and put on an unbeaten 26 runs for the fourth wicket with Thirimanne. India rotated their bowlers till the very end, but were unable to get a breakthrough even as nine overs were lost in the day’s play.

Earlier, Sri Lanka were placed at 65/1 at tea in reply to India’s 393 runs in the first innings. Indian pacers Ishant Sharma (0-31) and Umesh Yadav (1-34) made a good start as they used the new ball to good effect. It was an interesting passage of play as Lankans had many near-miss moments. Silva chopped on a couple of times, and once failed to negotiate a short delivery that flicked off his bat and looped up, but survived somehow. Sangakkara was a little uneasy against Ashwin when he was introduced in the 12th over.

But both batsmen survived big moments as well. First- change bowler Stuart Binny (0-24) induced an edge from Silva, in the ninth over and he was caught behind only to be given not out as the bowler had over-stepped marginally.

Then Sangakkara was dropped by Rahane at slip off Ashwin in the 14th over, albeit a tough chance as the batsman played a full-blooded cut that went to the fielder very quickly.

The Lankan 50-mark came up in the 17th over and the two avoided any further loss going into the break.