Colombo, Aug 4 (IANS) India rode on a strong batting performance and some superb bowling by star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to consolidate their advantage on the second day of the second cricket Test against Sri Lanka here on Friday.
India captain Virat Kohli decided on declaration during the last session of the day after the visitors had piled on a mammoth total of 622/9 in their first innings.
Ashwin made good use of the considerable turn being offered by the pitch to remove Lankan openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Upul Tharanga as the hosts posted 50/2 in their first innings at stumps. India now have a lead of 572 runs.
Kusal Mendis (16 batting) and Dinesh Chandimal (8 batting) were at the crease when the umpires decided to call it a day at the Sinhalese Sports Club.
Ashwin registered figures of 2/38. Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja and fast bowler Mohammed Shami also bowled well, although both did not manage a wicket.
Earlier, the Indians rode on half-centuries from Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha and Ashwin to post a big total.
Jadeja remained unbeaten on a quick 70 runs off 85 balls, which included four boundaries and three sixes. Saha and Ashwin made 67 and 54 respectively.
Off-spinner Rangana Herath was the most successful among the Sri Lankan bowlers with figures of 4/154. Left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara returned with 2/156 while Karunaratne and Dilruwan Perera bagged a wicket each.
Resuming the day at 344/3, India lost Cheteshwar Pujara (133) in the second over of the day, trapped in front by part-timer Dimuth Karunaratne before Ajinkya Rahane (132) and Ashwin consolidated the innings with a 63-run fifth-wicket stand.
Pujara looked good during his brief stay on the second morning, fetching a boundary off Karunaratne, but the next delivery ended his 232-ball vigil.
The Saurashtra right-hander who had by now added 217 runs with Rahane, was hit on his thighs by a back of a length delivery from Karunaratne, resulting in loud appeals from the hosts.
The on-field umpire, however, did not budge and the home side immediately asked for a referral which got them the prized wicket.
The fall of Pujara, brought in the dependable Ashwin, who started briskly, striking two boundaries off Rangana Herath and Karunaratne before slowing down a bit.
The right-handed duo of Ashwin and Rahane continued to frustrate the Sri Lankans, stealing the odd boundaries and rotating the strike at a good rate to raise their 50-run stand in no time.
In his attempt to accelerate the scoring rate after India crossed the psychologically important 400-run mark, Rahane perished to debutant left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara, smartly stumped by Niroshan Dickwella after facing 222 balls and sending the ball 14 times to the fence.
Rahane’s dismissal brought a sigh of relief to the Sri Lankan camp, as wicketkeeper-batsman Saha and Ashwin safely guided India to 442/5 at the lunch break.
The Sri Lankans started the post-lunch session on a promising note when Ashwin was bowled by Herath shortly after completing his half-century.
Ashwin, who notched up the 11th half-century of his Test career, faced 92 balls, hitting five boundaries and a six.
Hardik Pandya then scored 20 runs off as many deliveries before he mistimed his shot while trying to smash a Pushpakumara delivery out of the park only to see Angelo Mathews latch onto the skier at long-off.
Jadeja joined Saha in the middle and the duo added 72 runs between them to pile more pressure on the hosts.
Saha was batting comfortably but was stumped when he stepped out to a flighted delivery from Herath. His patient innings of 134 balls included four boundaries and a six.
Saha’s departure prompted Jadeja to up the ante and the Gujarat all-rounder brought up his half-century in style, flicking a Herath delivery off his pads for a boundary.
Shami played a brief, power-packed knock at the other end, smashing 19 runs off eight deliveries. He hit Herath into the stands off two consecutive deliveries before offering a skier to Tharanga at deep mid-wicket while going for a hat-trick of sixes.
Jadeja continued with his aggressive batting, stepping out to smash Herath for another six with Umesh Yadav also joining the party with a boundary off Dilruwan Perera.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka (first inings): 50/2 (Kusal Mendis 16 batting; Ravichandran Ashwin 2/38) vs India (first inings): 622/9 declared (Cheteshwar Pujara 133, Ajinkya Rahane 132, Ravindra Jadeja 70 not out; Rangana Herath 4/154).
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