Sri Lanka have dominated proceedings in the Test so far and the trend continued on Day 3 as well, with the home side restricted to just 172 in the first innings. In reply, riding on a 99-run partnership between Angelo Mathews (52) and Lahiru Thirimanne (51), they have closed the gap to just 7 runs.
Brief scores: India 172/10 (Cheteshwar Pujara 52, Wriddhiman Saha 29; Suranga Lakmal 4/26, Dilruwan Perera 2/19) lead Sri Lanka 165/4 (Angelo Mathews 52, Lahiru Thirimanne 51; Umesh Yadav 2/50, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2/49) by 7 runs.
Not really Wellington anymore!
On the first day of the series, after the Rain Gods had relented and Sri Lanka opted to field, Indian fans were shocked to see the surface that had been prepared for the match was as green as they get. When Suranga Lakmal started getting lateral movement of the wicket and in the air, India’s bowling trio of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, and Mohammad Shami would have been raring to have a go at the pitch. However, two days later, while the pitch still has a bit to offer, it’s no Wellington. Apart from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, none of the Indian batsmen fell to an unplayable delivery. While Pujara and Jadeja played for the wrong line, Saha and Shami’s shot selection was questionable.
In the Sri Lanka innings, the trend continued. Karunaratne, for some reason, didn’t offer a shot while Samarawickrama nicked one while fishing outside his off stump. After Thirimanne was dismissed by a decent delivery, Matthews gave Rahul some unwanted catching practice. The pitch is beginning to ease up and any result apart from a draw, unless India
ICC rules anyone?
The new ICC rules came into effect last month with “fake fielding” being one of the contentious ones. Law 41.5 states that “it is unfair for any fielder wilfully to attempt, by word or action, to distract, deceive or obstruct either batsman after the striker has received the ball,” and “award 5 Penalty runs to the batting side and inform the captain of the fielding side of the reason for this action and as soon as practicable inform the captain of the batting side.”
However, the umpires failed to pick up a clear “fake fielding” violation by Sri Lankan skipper Dinesh Chandimal in the first innings. While five runs might not have a big impact on a Test match’s result, in a low scoring one, it could be disastrous for the Indian side. The major plot point, however, will be about the umpire’s failure to pick up the violation. If we already have all three umpires communicating throughout the game, why couldn’t the third umpire just narrate the incident to his on-field counterpart? Along with the number of decisions that have been overturned in the game so far, the spotlight bright on the two men officiating this game.
This is not the same Sri Lanka that India faced in July
When India thrashed Sri Lanka in their own backyard back in July, cricket lovers felt sorry for the state that Sri Lankan cricket found itself in. There was no fight, no player who looked like he deserved to be put in the same bracket as their Indian counterparts. However, three months later, this looks like a very different side. Agreed the conditions have helped them a bit, but one cannot discount the sheer fighting spirit that they have shown in the game so far.
Lakmal has been able to get more purchase and has been able to threaten more batsmen than the Indian pacers. Their decision making while opting for DRS has been exceptional. The Sri Lanka from two months ago would have crumbled after losing two early wickets. Even if they had survived that, it is highly unlikely that they would have been able to