A fighting Cheteshwar Pujara struck his seventh Test fifty and helped India reach 119 for four at lunch on day two of the third and final cricket Test against Sri Lanka here today.
Pujara was batting on 55 (138 balls, 6×4) after adding 55 runs for the fourth wicket with Rohit Sharma (26; 65 balls, 3×4, 1×6) who fell at the stroke of lunch break as India added 69 runs from 30.5 overs in the second morning session at the Sinhalese Sports Club.
The day began 15-minutes early as stipulated for the remainder of this Test match, and the Sri Lankan bowlers were immediately on top. The ball was only 15 overs old as India started again from their day one score of 50/2.
Dhammika Prasad (2/32) and Nuwan Pradeep (1/20) got good purchase from the still-fresh pitch. The former looked especially threatening throughout the morning session and was really unlucky not to have picked up more wickets.
He had two huge shouts for LBW against Virat Kohli (18) in the very first over of the day, and the first one a very close call, but umpire Nigel Llong did not accept the bowler’s appeals.
At the other end, Pradeep also made Pujara hop and skip as the ball took off from a good length, displaying the differentiating bounce in the pitch. India’s scoring rate was very slow of course as it was a tough first hour’s play, with only six runs coming off the first five overs.
The Pujara-Kohli combine brought up their 50-partnership in the 23rd over, and then immediately Angelo Mathews (1/8) dismissed Kohli, who was caught behind chasing a wide ball outside the off-stump. Keeper Kusal Perera, who had dropped Kohli on 8 yesterday, did not make any mistake this time and gleefully accepted this chance.
Rohit walked in to join Pujara at the other end as Rangana Herath (0/37) came on. He looked to attack the spinner immediately, going over the top a couple of occasions, and hitting him for a six as well. This positive intent rubbed off on Pujara as well and runs started flowing in the latter half of the session. The first hour of play yielded just 22 runs at the expense of one wicket in 15 overs.