Kohli, Abhinav help extend lead as India tightens noose on SL

At 189 for three in the second innings, India is already ahead by 498 runs.

Virat Kohli (left) and Abhinav Mukund added 133 for the third wicket.   -  AFP

A sunny Friday featuring a rain-interlude ebbed away with a rainbow in the sky. Inside the Galle International Stadium, India’s fortunes mirrored the inter-play of nature. It featured Sri Lanka’s resistance before Virat Kohli’s men secured a 309-run first-innings lead. When the first Test’s third day drew to a close, the visitor, powered by Kohli’s unbeaten 76 and Abhinav Mukund’s 81, scored 189 for three in the second innings and was ahead by 498 runs.

Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

India’s second innings witnessed no encores from the first-innings centurions Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara. The duo fell cheaply while Abhinav stayed at the crease and offered the exaggerated leave outside the off-stump, the sharp cut and a straight bat. Dhawan, in trying to cut off-spinner Dilruwan Perera, found the ball a touch late and chipped straight to point. Pujara on-drove a few and just as dark clouds cast a shadow on the Indian Ocean and moved over the ground, the batsman flicked Lahiru Kumara straight to a juggling Kusal Mendis at leg-gully.

                                               Herath doubtful for remainder of Test

Sri Lanka captain Rangana Herath suffered a blow on his left middle finger during the course of the Indian second innings here in the first Test. The host team’s cricket manager Asanka Gurusinha stressed that there is no fracture and a call on Herath’s further participation in the Test, will be taken on Saturday morning.

“We are icing it at the moment. We are not worried right now. It’s the same finger that he fractured three years ago. We can’t see a fracture. We took an x-ray. If the pain continues, then we will do an MRI scan. We are icing the finger and we will know in the morning. At this stage he is not going to go to Colombo. Will see if he could bowl tomorrow. It is the middle finger in his left-hand. We feel it’s a bruise,” Gurusinha said.

The next second, the clock turned 2.09 p.m., and the tropical showers commenced. It was an intense but short spell forcing the players to run for cover. The skies cleared in a bit, tea was sipped in the intervening period and when play resumed at 3.55 p.m., Abhinav and Kohli were unperturbed.

Making hay

The drives were on view, Kohli’s laced with his innate punch, Abhinav’s a reflection of a southpaw’s penchant for the off-side. Nuwan Pradeep felt the heat of Kohli’s bat and when he bounced Abhinav, the opener moved a touch inside and lashed to the square-leg fence. Together Kohli and Abhinav added 133 runs in a third-wicket partnership that ended when the latter fell lbw to part-timer Danushka Gunathilaka. The alliance helped India pursue a mammoth lead that will hurt Sri Lanka in the match’s fourth innings, provided the weather gods don’t get finicky.

Dilruwan Perera top scored for Sri Lanka with an unbeaten 92. Photo: AP

 

Earlier, India bowled out Sri Lanka for 291, in the second over after lunch. Resuming at 154 for five and trailing India’s 600, Sri Lanka sought assurance from Mathews (83) and Perera (92 n.o.). The batsmen refused to be bogged down in their 62-run sixth-wicket partnership. Mathews cut Umesh Yadav and pulled R. Ashwin, who also watched Perera dance down the track and despatch one above the ropes.

Defiant Perera

Against the run of play, Mathews in trying to loft Ravindra Jadeja over the in-field holed out to Kohli at short-cover. At 205 for six, Sri Lanka was technically seven wickets down as the injured Asela Gunaratne cannot play. The gloomy scenario did not hinder Perera. He was watchful against the spinners as Ashwin tested him with dip and turn while Jadeja was accurate. But when an opportunity arose, Perera had no hesitation in cashing in. Ashwin was hoisted down the ground and pulled over mid-wicket and when adjudged lbw to Jadeja, Perera, then on 38, opted for a successful review that showed the delivery missing the stumps.

Perera 'disappointed' at missing century

His skipper Rangana Herath whittled some runs through the reverse-sweep. The same stroke undid him, as a Jadeja delivery skimmed the batsman’s glove and lobbed to Ajinkya Rahane. Undaunted by the sight of retreating partners, Perera played his shots. He cut Umesh Yadav fine, toppled under the riposte – a nasty bouncer, got up and upper-cut the next delivery for four.

Perera then slog-swept Jadeja for four and six while for India, debutant Hardik Pandya got his maiden Test wicket, castling Pradeep. When No. 10 Lahiru Kumara became Jadeja’s third victim, Perera was stranded in the nervous-nineties. Like the fan, wearing a Lasith Malinga inspired golden-hued wig and holding aloft the Sri Lanka flag all through the morning session, Perera did the flag-waving, metaphorically on the pitch. An effort that marginally delayed India’s strangle-hold of the contest.