NAGPUR: Two centuries, a quick fifty, a 10th three-figure partnership for the Vijay-Pujara combine and 301 runs for the loss of just one wicket. Statistics sum up how dominant the bat was on the second day of the second Test in Nagpur. Unmistakable in all this was the state of the Sri Lankan attack. Economical when the fast bowlers concentrated on bowling outside off and when Rangana Herath bowled wicket to wicket, they were pedestrian for large parts of the day on a pitch good for batting.
After a decent initial period during which the bowlers restricted scoring to about two per over, Sri Lanka showed up short on resources when it came to threatening the batters. Barring the odd one, hardly anything beat the bat, which confirms that their early domination in the first Test had everything to do with the green pitch at Eden Gardens. Not many Test teams to have come to India in the last few years have been found so short on wicket-taking options.
Their inadequacies got further exposed when the fourth and fifth bowlers were pressed into action. The off-spin of Dilruwan Perera and medium pace of Dasun Shanaka cost Sri Lanka 160 runs in 34 overs. Not even remotely did the two look like taking wickets. With premier bowlers unable to strike and those in the team to provide support with the ball failing to contain, the visitors were at the mercy of Indian batsmen, who obviously didn’t show any, other than leaving deliveries not in the hitting zone. Despite respectable career figures of 96 wickets in 23 Tests, Perera was the biggest weak link, conceding more than 5.5 runs per over.
“Indian batsmen targeted bowlers who they wanted to hit. I won’t be too critical because there was no assistance for the bowlers from this pitch,” said Sri Lanka’s batting coach Thilan Samaraweera. “It’s difficult for an off-spinner when he bowls only against right-handers, who are looking to score off him on such a surface.” However, with three days to go and India looking good to make them bat a second time facing a big deficit, life will be difficult for Sri Lanka’s batsmen on the same pitch. “There will be roughs later on that India’s spinners might benefit from.
We are definitely behind the game at the moment,” felt Samaraweera, a former batsman who had started as off-spinner. Going by that, the Sri Lankans seem to have read the writing on the wall. Batting listless and bowling not inspiring, there is little they can do to salvage this one. Another gruelling test awaits them on Sunday, before India go for the kill.
SCORECARD Sri Lanka 1st Innings: 205. India 1st Innings: Rahul b Gamage 7, Vijay c Perera b Herath 128, Pujara n.o 121, Kohli n.o 54. Extras (B 1, LB 1) 2. Total (for 2 wkts; 98 overs) 312. Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-216. Bowling: Lakmal 18-2- 58-0, Gamage 22-7-47-1, Herath 24-8- 45-1, Shanaka 13-3-43-0, Perera 21-0-117- 0.