BENGALURU: Even before a single ball was bowled in the second Test between India and Sri Lanka, the dry pitch at M Chinnaswamy Stadium had already become a talking point on Saturday. Two questions loomed largely. How will it pan out during the sunny day? How will the ball behave under lights?
It did not take much time to figure out the first. The away team handed a relatively new pink-ball to slow left-arm Lasith Embuldeniya in the eighth over itself, and the first couple of balls produced some turn, which continued for a major part of Indian innings.
The second question was answered in the evening as India pacers proved to be a roaring success against the Lankan top order. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami made the Islanders dance to their tune with the massive crowd egging them on, helping India enjoy a solid start on Day 1. At the time of print, the visitors were 28/4 trailing by 224 runs.
Earlier, India batters did not look too comfortable against the spin and low bounce in the offing. With them being reduced to 86/4 – run rate was not a major concern, but wickets were — India was looking for someone to take them towards a good score. Though Rishabh Pant scored a brisk 26-ball 39, it was Shreyas Iyer, who stole the show with a 98-ball 92, which included ten fours and four massive sixes.
On such a track, it was always going to be difficult to survive. Blocking was not an option. As a result, the middle-order batters, including Pant and Iyer played their natural game. In fact, Pant came ahead of Iyer, and he did not allow any of the bowlers to settle down, attacking from the word go. He opened his innings with two fours in his first three balls and looked set for big innings before Embuldeniya (3/94) castled his wicket.
At the other end, Iyer was having a good look at the Sri Lanka attack and gradually began to play his shots. It was the need of the hour with wickets falling quite regularly at the other end. The man from Mumbai took on the bowlers, smashing them to all parts of the ground. In fact, he brought in his domestic cricket experience into play against the spinners as he came down the track to negate the turn and also pushed back to unsettle the bowlers. He was successful with that approach as he got some freebies to put away in the cow corner region.
Iyer added 35 with R Ashwin and 32 with Axar Patel for the seventh and eight wickets respectively. The last wicket partnership of 23 with Bumrah did not prove to be enough for his ton as Iyer was out for 92.
With the ball in his hand, Bumrah looked ominous, troubling the Lankan batters, who were beaten quite frequently. After dismissing Kusal Mendis in his second over, he removed Lahiru Thirimanne in his next over before Shami sent back skipper Dimuth Karunaratne and Dhananjaya de Silva, reducing Sri Lanka to 28/4.
India 1st innings: Agarwal (run out) 4, Sharma c de Silva b Embuldeniya 15, Vihari c Dickwella b Jayawickrama 31, Kohli lbw de Silva 23, Pant b Embuldeniya 39, Iyer st Dickwella b Jayawickrama 92, Jadeja c Thirimanne b Embuldeniya 4, Ashwin c Dickwella b de Silva 13, Patel b Lakmal 9, Shami c de Silva b Jayawickrama 5, Bumrah (not out) 0; Extras: (B7, LB8, NB2) 17; Total: (all out in 59.1 overs) 252; FoW: 1/10, 2/29, 3/76, 4/86, 5/126, 6/148, 7/183, 8/215, 9/229; Bowling: Lakmal 8-3-12-1, Fernando 3-0-18-0, Embuldeniya 24-2-94-3, Jayawickrama 17.1-3-81-3, de Silva 7-1-32-2.
Sri Lanka 1st innings: Mendis c Iyer b Bumrah 2, Karunaratne b Shami 4, Thirimanne c Iyer b Bumrah 8, de Silva lbw b Shami 10, Mathews (batting) 4; Extras: (b1) 1 Total: (4 wickets in 12 overs) 28; FoW: 2/1, 14/2, 14/3,28/4; Bowling: Shami 4-1-9-2, Jadeja 1-0-3-0, Bumrah 5-2-12-2, Ashwin 2-1-4-0.