Malinda Pushpakumara, Lakshan Sandakan cause trouble for India in Pallekele Test | india-vs-sri-lanka-2017 | Hindustan Times
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Malinda Pushpakumara, Lakshan Sandakan cause trouble for India in Pallekele Test

The spin duo of Malinda Pushpakumara and Lakshan Sandakan brought Sri Lanka back into the game on Day 1 of Pallekele Test after Shikhar Dhawan’s gutsy hundred.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Aug 12, 2017 20:50 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sri Lanka's Lakshan Sandakan, right, celebrates the dismissal of India's captain Virat Kohli during the first day's play of their third Test match in Pallekele.
Sri Lanka's Lakshan Sandakan, right, celebrates the dismissal of India's captain Virat Kohli during the first day's play of their third Test match in Pallekele.(AP)

Few bowling attacks over the last two years have been able to figure out a way to stop this Indian batting lineup in sub-continental conditions. Australia did put them under pressure, but on rank turners. In that sense, the Sri Lankan bowlers can take pride in their effort, putting the visitors in all sorts of trouble on a true wicket, on the opening day of the third Test at the Pallekele International Stadium. (HIGHLIGHTS)

It was after a long time one witnessed the Indian middle-order being put under pressure for a lengthy period. It was not that India lost some quick wickets. The batsmen were looking to apply themselves and were then out playing shots in an effort to break the shackles applied by the spin duo of Malinda Pushpakumara and Lakshan Sandakan. (SCORECARD)

Cheteshwar Pujara, who was coming into the game with back-to-back hundreds, was made to graft for 33 balls for his eight runs (no boundaries). Another centurion from the last game, Ajinkya Rahane, laboured for 48 balls for his 17 runs, and the usually fluent Ravichandran Ashwin got his 31 off 75 balls. Not to forget the irrepressible Virat Kohli who scored 42 off 84 balls.

Sri Lanka's Malinda Pushpakumara celebrates with captain Dinesh Chandimal after taking the wicket of India's Ajinkya Rahane. (REUTERS)

So, what did the Lankans do against a lineup which had hammered them for 600-plus totals in the first two Tests?

It was clear that the Sri Lankan spinners were focused on not allowing the Indian batsmen to use their feet. So far, the Pujara & Co had dominated the spinners by getting to the pitch of the ball and forcing them to shorten the length. But on Saturday, the Indians were hardly allowed any room by Pushpakumara and Sandakan.

READ | Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul show for India before Sri Lanka bowlers hit back on Day 1

The variations of chinaman Sandakan seemed to have made the difference. Even someone like Shikhar Dhawan, who got a hundred, it was a challenge. “It was hard for me to pick his googly a couple of times because I haven’t played him,” said Dhawan of Sandakan, who claimed the wickets of Pujara and Virat Kohli, both caught at slips.

“It was my first time. But after I was set and once I saw him, I knew what he is doing, I could pick his googly. His googly comes a bit slower than his normal delivery, so when you spend time, you realise things and you work according to that. He was turning the ball and that’s why Í was playing him more cautiously rather than being over-aggressive,” said Dhawan.

From the other end, Pushpakumara used all his first-class experience to keep the Indian batsmen in check, bowling a lot fuller and walking away with the wickets of KL Rahul, Dhawan and Rahane.

“The left-arm bowler (Pushpakumara) is also good and he took wickets today,” said Dhawan.