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Ind vs SL, 2nd Test, Day 2: Pant, Iyer fifties help India set SL an improbable 447

Ind vs SL, 2nd Test - Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer helps India set big total, Bumrah gets maiden five-fer at home.

Ind vs SL, 2nd Test, Day 2: Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer fifties help India set Sri Lanka an improbable 447 (Images ©BCCI/Twitter)
Rishabh Pant scored 28-ball fifty in 2nd innings. (Images ©BCCI/Twitter)

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 109 (Mathews 43, Dickwella 21, Bumrah 5-24) & 28-1 (Mendis 16*, Bumrah 1-9) need 419 runs to beat India 252 (Shreyas Iyer 92, Pant 39, Jayawickrama 3-81, Embuldeniya 3-94) & 303-9 d (Shreyas Iyer 67, Pant 50, Jayawickrama 4-78)

On an action-packed first day when the ball was spinning, bouncing, swinging and seaming, a masterclass 92 from gritty Shreyas Iyer helped India to 252 before their aggressive bowlers broke Sri Lanka’s backbone to reduce them to 86-6.

The critical question was going to be whether the game would move to the third day.

Pitch at Chinnaswamy on Day 2

The 22-yard strip which saw the fall of a record 16 wickets on the first day both from spin and pace, was expected to be the same. With the cracks opening up little bit more, spin with variable bounce and the swinging ball under lights would make batting a nightmarish job.

Bumrah’s maiden five-wicket haul at home wrapped up Sri Lanka tail; India collected a 143-run lead

Niroshan Dickwella began the day with two back-to-back boundaries on the very first couple of balls before watching nightwatchman Lasith Embuldeniya getting dismissed thanks to an ambitious shot against Jasprit Bumrah, who picked up his fourth wicket. Suranga Lakmal, playing his last game for Sri Lanka, too after a boundary missed a carrom ball from Ravichandran Ashwin that disturbed his stumps.

Soon, with the wicket of Dickwella who gloved a short ball to the wicketkeeper, Jasprit Bumrah picked up his eighth five-wicket haul in 29 Tests - only Kapil Dev had as many among the Indian seamers at the same point in his career. It was also Bumrah’s maiden fifer in India.

Ravichandran Ashwin foxed Vishwa Fernando on 8 to take his 438th wicket in Test cricket to bundle out Sri Lanka for 109, their second-lowest total against India who received a 143-run heavy lead.

Ind vs SL, 2nd Test, Day 2_ Jasprit Bumrah takes his maiden five wicket haul at home. (Images ©BCCI_Twitter)
Jasprit Bumrah takes his maiden five wicket haul at home. (Images ©BCCI/Twitter)

Steady India stretched lead to 204 runs at Tea

India had an hour and a half before the break and the openers, Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal, batted sensibly on this track to provide the hosts a good platform. Even while giving respect to the bowlers, they weren’t missing out on securing boundaries. Lasith Embuldeniya, though broke the opening partnership on 42 when he drew the edge of Mayank Agarwal who was snapped up on a personal score of 22.

Hanuma Vihari along with Rohit denied any more damage as India went to Tea with a lead of 204 runs including 9 wickets in the bank. The injury of Praveen Jayawickrama would make it more tough for the visitors.

Fierce Pant’s fastest half-century puts India in a comfortable position

In the same smooth way, both Vihari and Rohit kicked off the second session with superb running between the wickets and occasional boundaries. Even though the Sri Lankan spinners were asking a few questions, the duo celebrated their 50-run stand. But there was a period when Rohit wasn’t able to get runs off his bat and that dryness got the better of him as Rohit tried to hit Dhananjaya de Silva out of the park but ended up finding Angelo Mathews at long on.

The gate opened for the visitors as soon Vihari too ran out of his luck when he was on 35; in an attempt to sweep, Vihari missed the ball which straightaway hit the furniture. Virat Kohli, who looked a bit active for his 13, received another de Silva replica of the first innings that rolled on to trap him before the stumps. With that score, for the first time, Kohli’s average fell below 50 - to the figure of 49.96 - since November 2017.

Meanwhile, a Rishabh Pant storm in between these incidents just tore away the visitors’ bowling. With the help of seven boundaries and couple of sixes, Pant registered the fastest half-century, off just 28 deliveries, for an Indian in Test cricket. Even though he couldn’t continue much longer as in an aim to shimmy down the pitch, the ball went skywards and fell in the gloves of bowler Jayawickrama.

Although, India’s tactic of scoring at 4.76 runs per over in the middle session dropped a hint of declaration late in the evening as they headed to dinner with a 342 run lead.

Ind vs SL, 2nd Test, Day 2: Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer fifties help India set Sri Lanka an improbable 447 (Images ©BCCI/Twitter)
Shreyas Iyer scored back to back half century in the 2nd Test (Images ©BCCI/Twitter)

India threw a mountainous target of 447 runs in front of Sri Lanka shouldering on Iyer’s 67

First innings half-centurion Shreyas Iyer and Ravindra Jadeja started the last session quite solidly but the urgency seemed to be missing. Be that as it may, balls were frequently touching the boundary rope as the duo brought up a fifty-run partnership. With a cracking cover drive, Iyer notched up his second fifty of the game before Vishwa Fernando got rid of Jadeja with a ball that jagged back to fracture the stumps.

With every run, the lead was slowly running beyond the grasp of Sri Lanka. They did pick up two more quick wickets, first catching the edge of Ashwin on 13 before trapping Iyer before the stumps on 67. Thereafter, with the wicket of Axar Patel, India declared at 303-9 setting a target of 447 runs for Sri Lanka.

Bumrah hunted Thirimanne before close of play; India need 9 wickets to register clean sweep

Just three balls into the innings and India scalped their first wicket courtesy Jasprit Bumrah who trapped Lahiru Thirimanne before the stumps with a blazing in-swinging delivery.

The wobbled seam from the pacers was making it hard for wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant to judge and grasp, not to mention the opposition batters. At last, some waste of time in treatment and with Mendis’ last ball survival, Sri Lanka managed to take the game forward on the third day with still 419 runs to win while India would aim for 9 more wickets.

What lies ahead on Day 3

It goes without saying which side is ahead in the contest. India with 9 wickets to pick in three more days of the game, are favourites to seal the series 2-0, with full points in World Test Championship 2021-23 while Sri Lanka, requiring an improbable 419 runs more, will try to survive as long as they can.

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