With a KL Rahul and India’s first-innings top-scorer Cheteshwar Pujara in the middle, India would have fancied their chances of enforcing a result but Lakmal threw a spanner in the works of their plans in a brilliant spell of seam bowling.
Rahul played a classy knock on Sunday to wrest control of the Test from Sri Lanka. But Lakmal, who didn’t bowl much during Day 4, set the opener with one that moved away and slipped an indipper that went through the gates to crash on the stumps, packing him on 79.
Pujara looked in his elements after grinding it out in across the first three days for a memorable fifty. On a pitch that was now more conducive for batting, he caressed Lakmal for a lovely straight drive and punched Lahiru Gamage for two consecutive fours. He was joined by India captain Virat Kohli who had to go through a nervy phase with the bowlers hitting the deck hard to generate bounce. Lakmal stood out with a brilliant exhibition of seam bowling as he got the better of Pujara three times in a row in the 51st over. He sucked him in to playing the wrong line, got the ball to move both ways, clouding his mind.
And then came the knockout punch. Out of nowhere, Lakmal got one to bounce over Pujara’s shoulder who was late in responding to the soaring delivery. The ball flew in front of the gully fielder after taking the shoulder of the bat where Dilruwan Perera dived and completed an excellent catch to end Pujara’s knock at 22.
Ajinkya Rahane lasted three deliveries before receiving a ripper from Lakmal that kissed the outside edge and the wicketkeeper did the rest. India had lost their two most dependable batsmen within the same over giving Sri Lanka some home.
Losing Rahane for a duck prompted a change of strategy and India sent Ravindra Jadeja, a left-hander in at no. 6. The move seemed to work before Perera surprised Jadeja with extra bounce to have him caught at first slip for 9 off 41.
Kohli though settled in and struck three gorgeous boundaries to gain some confidence after a duck in the first innings.
Brief Scores: India 251/5 (Shikhar Dhawan 94, KL Rahul 79; Suranga Lakmal 3/50) lead Sri Lanka 294 (Rangana Herath 67; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4/88) by 129 runs
Source : timesofindia