India vs Sri Lanka: Kusal Mendis hits ton, hosts finally show resistance
Sri Lanka’s Kusal Mendis and Dimuth Karunaratne showed no signs of pressure against a mountain of runs and came out all guns blazing in the second innings to make India work harder than anytime during the series.Updated: Aug 05, 2017, 18:10 IST
Powered by Mendis’s 110 and an unbeaten 92 from opener Karunaratne, Sri Lanka were 209 for two after being asked to follow-on at stumps on Day 3 of the second Test. The home team still trails by 230 runs after conceding a massive 439-run lead following a woeful batting display in the morning. (Sri Lanka vs India Day 3 highlights)
Hardik Pandya provided India the breakthrough at the fag end of the day with wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha taking a brilliant diving catch off Mendis’s inside edge. The counter-attacking innings was studded with 17 fours and came off just 135 balls. (SL vs IND Day 3 scorecard)
Ever since India’s epic fightback in 2001, Eden Gardens, teams are reluctant to give follow-on. This Indian team management is also not keen on going for the option, and refused to take it in Galle, but with a lead of 439 runs after the first innings of the second Test, they had no choice.
The Sri Lanka batsmen provided another proof of how teams have become harder to crack when they follow-on. With the home team offering no resistance on the third morning, captain Virat Kohli’s target would been to get close to wrapping up the game by the close of play.
PLAN VS SPINNERS
Sri Lanka’s second innings too started on a poor note when Upul Tharanga was bowled by Umesh Yadav in the third over. On the dry surface, spinners R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were the main threat. But Mendis and Karunaratne had their plans in place for the two.
Mendis came in and straightaway went for his shots. He countered the threat from R Ashwin by targeting the midwicket region. He used the cross-batted shot to good effect whenever the spinner gave air. Though a risky option, the diminutive batsman executed it well by coming on top of the bounce. He raced away to the three-figure mark with his batting partner still in his 70s. Karunaratne looked to play straight, and worked the ball off the pads by relying on the safer flick shot.
The two added 191 for the second wicket, and more importantly, gave their team the self-belief.
Earlier, R Ashwin picked his 26th five-wicket haul to bundle out Sri Lanka for 183. He was well-supported by Ravindra Jadeja, who completed 150 Test wickets with his second scalp of the day.
Resuming the day on 50 for two, the Sri Lankan innings disintegrated quickly. Jadeja created doubts in batsmen’s minds in the first over itself when he let a few balls rip across the blade. The batsmen showed no confidence in their play on the second evening and they were tentative at the start of Saturday’s game.
There was no application and they paid a price for it. The home team’s hopes rested almost entirely on the overnight pair of Dinesh Chandimal and Kusal Mendis. However, both fell to poor shots.
The left-arm spinner didn’t have to wait long for his first wicket as captain Dinesh Chandimal failed to keep a sweep shot down at the total of 60, hitting it straight to the square leg fielder. Mendis followed soon after when he tried an extravagant shot against pacer Umesh Yadav and holed out to the mid-on fielder.
Mendis tried to make amends in the second innings, but the effort seems to have come a tad late to save the match and series.