Kolkata, India : Lahiru Thirimanne and Angelo Mathews compiled contrasting fifties and shared a 99-run partnership that put Sri Lanka in the ascendancy of the Kolkata Test, cutting their deficit to just 7 by stumps on the third day.
They were united with the score on 34 for 2 but neither batsman chose to counterattack considering the plausibility of one delivery beating their defenses. They left well and allowed themselves to be beaten several times by playing the line, not pushing their hands too far in front of them. Soon, India’s seamers erred, looking for more than was required, with half-volleys and short and wide offerings and the boundaries flowed.
Just like for Sri Lanka, India’s seamers generated lateral movement from the outset. Bhuvneshwar Kumar produced swing both ways, while Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav used seam off the pitch. In addition to the two early wickets, they found a couple late in the day to ensure they didn’t fall too far behind.
Despite sufficient movement, Sadeera Samarawickrama, promoted to open, batted fluently. Displaying a compact technique and languid elegance, he struck three fours on either side of the wicket in his 23. But continuing to hit through the line with the ball hooping just enough was an approach fraught with risk. Bhuvneshwar duly found his outside edge as he played away from his body.
Thirimanne and Mathews then swung the game in Sri Lanka’s favour. Still on this surface, they needed luck. Bhuvneshwar kept penetrating Mathews’ inside edge, hitting him on both pads. A shorter length, though, meant he survived lbw shouts due to the extra bounce. Umesh even found Thirimanne’s outside edge, but Shikhar Dhawan spilled a simple catch at first slip.
Just after tea though, Umesh hit rhythm and cranked up the pace. An inswinger from around the wicket held its line, took Thirimanne’s outside edge and carried low to Virat Kohli’s left at second slip, who hung onto a sharp chance. Then, Mathews lost his concentration and chipped a catch to cover, his balance thrown off completely by a transfer of weight on the back foot, anticipating a shorter length.