The fall of Dinesh Chandimal hastened Sri Lanka’s capitulation on an action packed opening day of the second Test at the VCA Stadium where a couple of thousands thronged to see the Indian stars in action here on Friday.
In a period of over five hours, the visitors folded up for a modest 205, thanks to a certain degree of hostility demonstrated by Ishant Sharma, and the ability of R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to take the pitch out of the equation, constrict the batsmen and compel them to make mistakes.
The spinners, who had only played a filler role in the first Test at Kolkata when the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami swung the ball around and picked up wickets, captured a bagful here. Fast bowler Ishant also bowled straight and with a lot of energy and purpose in four bursts to make a big impact bt accounting for the openers.
Amid the floundering nature of the Sri Lankan batting, Chandimal displayed good skills, admirable character and thwarted the home team’s designs for a little over one and a half hours. Within minutes of the tea interval, he carved the ball to cover, darted for a single, and raised his bat towards the dressing room to signal his 14 half-century in 43 Tests. He also became the 12th Sri Lanka to cross 3,000 runs.
Coming into the scene of action after Jadeja won a review for leg-before against the dangerous looking Angelo Mathews, Chandimal — who is not known to take a stoical stance in a career that’s about to complete six years — took control with a defensive approach, although he got enough bat on ball early on to hit a straight six off Ashwin.
Chandimal clearly looked the part to compete against India’s seam and spin attack which was in hot pursuit of nullifying the opponent’s decision to bat first. But in a sudden show of indiscretion, he decided go for a reverse sweep against the persisting Ashwin and paid a heavy price.
Once he covered the stumps while attempting the unconventional shot, and umpire Joel Wilson did not respond, Virat Kohli, prompted by Ashwin, gestured for the review and got the major stumbling block removed to take command of the proceedings.
On a surface that was supposed to show bias towards fast bowlers on the first two days, Chandimal chose three seamers in Suranga Lakmal, Dasun Shanaka and Lahiru Gamage and yet opted to bat.
The home team, meanwhile, took the field with four bowlers (Ishant and Umesh Yadav being the seamers). It preferred to bring batsman Rohit Sharma back into Tests after a gap of more than a year at the expense of Shammi, who was ruled out because he and the team did not want to aggravate a hip related niggle.
Having made the choice of Ishant as a replacement for Bhuvneshwar, India may have felt that Rohit must get a hit in the middle before next year’s away series in South Africa.
Whatever may have been the logic, the surprise in store was Ashwin and Jadeja sending down four balls short of 50 overs. They harried the Sri Lankan batsmen with accurate line & length, and change of angles, especially with Ashwin bowling round the wicket to choke the supply of runs to Chandimal.
India got a good start with Sadeera Samarawickrama falling victim with his propensity to go after the bowling around the off stump. Lahiru Thirimanne blocked for nearly 90 minutes before becoming Ashwin’s first scalp.
Left-hander Dimuth Karunaratne, who completed 1000 runs this year, held on for over three and half hours to make a half century that had many attractive shots, but overall the visitor came a cropper.
Opener K.L. Rahul began India’s innings with a firm off-drive off Lakmal to the fence, but inside-edged Gamage 12 balls later. Sri Lanka’s head coach Nic Pothas said India took six wickets off “straight” balls and his team has plans for Saturday when the Indians resume their innings. (Courtesy The Hindu)