Colombo, Aug 23:
India remained strongly on course to equalise the three-match cricket Test series as they reduced Sri Lanka to 72/2 in the latter’s pursuit of a 413-run target after the fourth day’s play of the second match here on Sunday.
Earlier, India resumed the day at 70/1, and Ajinkya Rahane (126) scoring his fourth Test century and Murali Vijay (82) drove India to 325/8 — enabling the visitors to declare their innings in the post-tea session with a 412-run lead.
Sri Lanka lost opening batsman Kaushal Silva (1) and legendary Kumar Sangakkara (18) to off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (2-27) to come under incredible pressure at the outset.
When play was called for the day, skipper Angelo Mathews (23 not out) and opener Dimuth Karunaratne (25 not out) were at the crease for Sri Lanka, who need another 341 runs to win the fixture and take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
Earlier, Rahane and Vijay struck a crucial 140-run second wicket partnership to put India 266 runs ahead of the hosts. Both Rahane and Vijay looked at ease in the morning session and runs came at a decent pace as compared to the evening session on Saturday where they were tested to the hilt.
The Sri Lankan bowlers went for 73 runs in the first 15 overs of play as Vijay and Rahane played shots on both sides of the wicket.
Off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal gave the hosts the first success of the day when he trapped Vijay in front of the stumps. Tamil Nadu batsman Vijay, who registered his 11th Test fifty, departed after hitting four shots to the fence and two over it from 133 deliveries.
Kaushal also dismissed skipper Virat Kohli (10) in similar fashion as India lost third wicket for 171 runs.
Then, Mumbai batsman Rohit Sharma (34) and his Ranji teammate Rahane joined hands to forge an 85-run stand for the fourth wicket that drove India to a commanding position.
Rahane showed a lot of patience and his different footworks against spinners — leggie Rangana Herath and offie Tharindu Kaushal — helped him keep the scoreboard ticking regularly. The right-hander scored 10 fours during his 243-ball innings.
Both Rohit and Rahane perished against Kaushal while trying to increase the run rate as India looked in a hurry to swell their lead.
While Rahane was caught behind by Dinesh Chandimal, Rohit, in search of big runs, hit it to Jehan Mubarak at deep midwicket.
At tea, India were 283/5 in 82 overs with Stuart Binny (17 not out) and Ashwin (2 not out) at the crease. Binny only added two and Ashwin 17 in the post-tea session.
Wriddhiman Saha, after being retired hurt in the second session, returned to score an unbeaten 17. Amit Mishra made 10 while Umesh Yadav was not out at 4.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli declared the innings after his team batted for nine overs after tea.
For Sri Lanka, pacer Dhammika Prasad (4-43) and off-spinner Tharindu Kaushal (4-118) shared the Indian wickets.
Kohli started the bowling with off-spinner Ashwin, who got a 10-wicket haul in the first Test in Galle and he again was up to the challenge.
Opener Silva’s wicket was a soft dismissal. The right-hander played a low full toss to Binny at short midwicket as India drew the first blood with the hosts at 8/1.
In walked Sangakkara to a standing and emotional ovation and the 37-year-old was greeted with another guard of honour from his rival camp in his final innings for his country. The prolific left-hander, playing in his 134th Test, was again tasked to do what he has been doing since his debut in july 2000.
Before this innings, he had 12,382 runs — fifth highest in the game’s history. But he only managed to add 18 to his tally as he succumbed to Ashwin’s guile for the fourth consecutive time.
He edged a sharp spun delivery to Vijay at gully. As he walked back, the capacity crowd offered another standing ovation to the former captain, who batted for the final time.
As the ground retuned to normalcy following the emotional moment, Mathews joined Karunaratne in the middle and the duo denied India another wicket, taking their total to 72/2. (IANS)