IND V SL, 1st Test, Day 1: Lakmal Blitz Leaves India In Trouble

November 17, 2017

On the eve of India’s opening Test against Sri Lanka at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, Virat Kohli had spoken of embracing playing in difficult conditions and being put in uncomfortable situations. At a delayed toss that took place at 1pm local time instead of the scheduled 9am, the Indian captain reiterated that sentiment when Dinesh Chandimal chose to bowl on one of the greenest pitches in India in recent memory, with rain in the air and clouds hovering.

Less than an hour’s play was possible on Thursday’s (November 16) first day, but that was more than enough time for Suranga Lakmal to send out a strong statement. Lakmal found the right length and movement aided by the pitch to rip through the defences of KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli, leaving India tottering at 17 for 3 in 11.5 overs when bad light ended play.

Cheteshwar Pujara was unbeaten on eight, having lasted 43 balls, while Ajinkya Rahane was yet to get off the mark. Lakmal had unreal figures of 3 for 0, having bowled six maidens on the trot.

All of India’s runs save for a leg-bye came off Lahiru Gamage, who couldn’t find the unerring spot that Lakmal did and went either too short or too full often. But with Lakmal metronomic at the other end and the ball jagging off the surface, there wasn’t much respite for the Indians.

When play finally got underway midway through the second session, Lakmal got Sri Lanka off to the perfect start. The first ball of the series pitched on a length and moved away to take the edge of Rahul’s bat on its way to the wicketkeeper. There wasn’t much the batsman could have done, but Dhawan will not want to watch replays of his dismissal. On a surface that demanded caution above all else, he chose to be expansive outside the off-stump. The wide gap between bat and pad was almost like a welcome mat for the ball to home in off the inside edge and disturb the stumps.

Kohli walked in at 13 for 2 in the seventh over, in exactly the sort of conditions he wanted his team to excel in. Two overs later, the players were walking back in once again for bad light, followed by light rain. Once the players came back out, there was no change in the script as Lakmal brought one back into Kohli to ping him on his pads. Kohli reviewed the lbw decision after a discussion with Pujara, and the ball was shown to be clipping the leg-stump, which meant India hadn’t lost its review. But its skipper was gone, for an 11-ball duck.

Lakmal had another confident appeal turned down, against Rahane, but in the next over, after a Gamage delivery narrowly missed Pujara’s stumps, the light meters were out again. The Indians were more than happy to walk off, for the final time in the day as it turned out.

While the first day was severely truncated, there was no shortage of action. More rain is forecast for the second day of what has already become a gripping Test match.


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