Bad Light forces Draw over a thrilling game

It has been an exciting start to the #INDvSL series. Lakmal’s exploits on day 1, Pujara’s gritty half-ton, Herath’s fighting fifty, Kohli’s 50th international ton and Bhuvi’s 8-fer, this game ran on a script of its own with twists and turns cropping up time and again in the backdrop of rain and bad light. In the end, despite almost 200 overs having been lost in the Test, and where it ended, it was a fantastic wicket which ensured the game could still have a result on day 5.
 India could have easily settled for the draw knowing there was very little chance of a win, but their fast bowlers refused to believe that. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohd Shami and Umesh Yadav, all bowled their hearts out to take seven Sri Lankan wickets for 75 runs in just 26.3 overs. They had the win within touching distance, but bad light had the last laugh. Sri Lanka escaped with a draw, but they’ve played superbly in this Test to put India under pressure for the first four days.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar was awarded the ‘Man of the Match’ for his 8 wickets. He bowled magnificently well and cramped Sri Lanka batting order in the second innings and provided India a hope for a win in a match that was looking very difficult from Indian point of view after the batting collapse in the first innings. But at the end of a fascinating day of cricket, India tried tooth and nail in the final session to win the game but could not. In the end, the light dipped pretty quickly and India did not have enough time to wrap it up.

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Brief scores: India 172 (Cheteshwar Pujara 52; Suranga Lakmal 4-26) and 352/8 decl. (Virat Kohli 104*, Dasun Shanaka 3-76) drew with Sri Lanka 294 (Rangana Herath 67; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4-88) and 75/7 (Niroshan Dickwella 27; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4-8).

Virat Kohli scored a significant century to pull India out of a tricky phase at the start of the first two sessions of the final day and put the game beyond Sri Lanka’s grasp, before the Indian Pacers gave hope of a win in the Eden Gardens Test. On the back of his hundred, India declared with 352 for 8, setting Sri Lanka an improbable target of 231 with a maximum of 47 overs. In reply, Sri Lanka were seven down, and Chandimal appeared to be signalling from the dressing room that the light was not sufficient. The umpires checked for light in the next over and brought an early end to an exceptional final session’s play.

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With more than an hour to play from the point where Sri Lanka were reduced to 22 for 4, India’s dramatic, late push for victory was mooted. Niroshan Dickwella provided some drama – he irked the Indian players and got involved in a game of glares-and-words before getting dismissed with still time left for India to wipe out the tail. Sri Lanka lost their seventh wicket before insufficient light bailed them out and the game ended in a draw.

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India resumed after lunch at 251 for 5, not entirely safe but not neck deep in troubled waters either. However, R Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha fell to Dasun Shanaka for single digit scores to draw worry lines for India. India’s lead was just over 150, and Sri Lanka would have fancied their chances if they could send the rest of the line-up back for another 10-15 runs.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar gave his captain vital company as Kohli took over and got the scorecard ticking with some affirmative strokeplay. He took on Lakmal and hit four fours in the space of two overs. Shanaka was meted out harsher treatment as Kohli quickly made India forget the trouble they were in. India’s lead had gotten past 200, and a declaration was imminent.

India’s lead neared 200 at the drinks break in the second session, after which they threw their bat around at nearly everything in order to maximize a short period of play before they could declare and take a crack at securing a win. Kohli launched into Lakmal, first carving a gorgeous six over extra cover. Gamage was subject to boundaries from Shami before Kohli stepped out to Lakmal in the following over and smashed one inside-out shot for a six to reach his century. India declared straight away, setting Sri Lanka a target of 231.

Coming into the last day, India found themselves in a strong position through a superb opening stand of 166 between KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan. India would even have harbored hopes of a win if they could score quickly and have a bowl at the Sri Lankans. Lakmal, however, quickly dispelled any such hopes that the Indians might have had by getting rid of KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in quick succession. India’s lead was 91 at that point, and Sri Lanka suddenly had received a shot in the arm.

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But at the end, India proved his dominance and told the Sri Lankan team that they have the ability to snatch the game from the opponent. It was a nice effort from the guests as they’ve played superbly in this Test to put India under pressure for the first four days.

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