Ranadeb bose, playing only his second match of the tour, on Friday made things interesting in the Indian bowling stakes. Leading the two-horse Indian pace attack in the absence of the rested Zaheer Khan, RP Singh and S Sreesanth, Bose picked up five for 51 against Sri Lanka A, taking the last four for just 11 runs. Ramesh Powar picked up four wickets, three of them in a two-over period.
Interestingly, Anil Kumble bowled just 11 overs and went wicketless. Equally interestingly, MS Dhoni — with Dinesh Karthik keeping wickets — got a three-over spell, a spell that seemed to completely defy reason.
In conditions that should have gladdened the batsmen, Sri Lanka A managed to put just 266 on the board.
Michael Vandort struck a sparkling 52 and captain Thilan Samaraweera followed up with a 75 that saved the Lankans from complete collapse following Bose's strikes either side of lunch.
Bose shared the new ball with Ishant Sharma and was clearly the more impressive of the two understudy pacemen. The Bengal paceman bent his back and made the ball rise, and also troubled the batsmen by swinging the ball in and out.
Mahela Udawatte, Vandort's opening partner, was more impressive in the beginning, hitting three fours in his 20 before he fell, trying to sweep Ramesh Powar. The ball lobbed over the batsman off the top edge and spun into the wicket.
Dilruwan Perara and Vandort added 73 runs for the second wicket, seemingly taking the game away from the Indians with brisk scoring. Perera hit three fours in his 20 off 36 balls before he was removed by Bose just before the lunch break.
Sri Lanka A went to lunch at 107 for two, Vandort on 41 and Malinda Warnapura on two. Bose struck twice immediately after lunch, taking out Warnapura and then Vandort.
Vandort hit Powar twice over mid-on for fours to reach his 50 but he fell soon after that, scooping a delivery from Bose to Gautam Gambhir at cover.
Vandort had a reprieve when Dinesh Karthik, keeping wickets in place of MS Dhoni — who fielded in the outfield — missed a stumping opportunity. In fact, Karthik missed another catch, a still simpler one, to reprieve Kaushal Lokuarachchi. Lokuarachchi went on to make 35 in a 62-run partnership with captain Samaraweera.
India lost the wicket of Dinesh Karthik, caught-behind off paceman Akalanka Ganegama, in the 11 overs possible before the draw of stumps.