India vs Sri Lanka: Visitors need to remove Cheteshwar Pujara early on Day 3 tighten grip on Kolkata Test

Sri Lanka need to get rid of No 3 batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who was unbeaten overnight on 47 off 102 balls, if they are to tighten their grip on India in the 1st Test.

FirstCricket Staff, Nov,18 2017

Sri Lanka gave India a rude wake-up call on the opening day of the first Test at Kolkata as Suranga Lakmal tore through the hosts' top order to reduce them to 17/3.

If their performance on Friday is taken into consideration, then the unfancied visitors only managed to prove that their clinical performance on Day 1 wasn't a fluke, and that they indeed have done their homework as far as tackling the No 1 side in the world is concerned.

The only difference between the two days though, was the fact that it was seam-bowling all-rounder Dasun Shanaka's turn to shine on the second day. Shanaka was included as the third seamer in the side with the team management deciding to use the services of the injury-prone Angelo Mathews only as a batsman in this tour.

Cheteshwar Pujara slammed a century to guide India to 360/6 on Day 3. AFP

Cheteshwar Pujara has been rock solid as far as anchoring the Indian innings is concerned. AFP

Shanaka first lured overnight batsman Ajinkya Rahane into a drive after bowling one outside the off-stump, with the batsman nicking it to the 'keeper, to depart for a 21-ball four. Bowling all-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin, who has exhibited his handiness with the bat in the recent past, didn't survive long at the crease either, guiding one straight to point.

At 50/5, the possibility of getting bundled out for less than 100 could not have been ruled out.

However, the presence of Cheteshwar Pujara at the crease was always going to be a source of hope for the glum-looking Indian dressing room. The Saurashtra batsman and Test specialist has made a mark for himself in the longest format with knocks that have been laced with both flair and grit.

On Friday, he brushed aside the pain of getting struck on his right thumb by a rising Lahiru Gamage delivery, and soldiered on for 102 deliveries to remain unbeaten on 47. He weathered the storm for the hosts with remarkable patience, waiting for the bowlers to commit mistakes — which they did, giving him nine boundaries as a result.

From the Sri Lankan perspective, getting the wicket of Pujara might very well be half, or maybe three-quarters of the battle won. Getting rid of the No 3 batsman will deprive the Indians of the pillar that has held them together so far in the innings. Even though the likes of local boy Wriddhiman Saha and Ravindra Jadeja can put up a fight, it is unlikely they will get anywhere close to the 250-300 mark without Pujara.

For now, the Sri Lankans continue to be in the driver's seat, inching closer towards their maiden win on Indian soil.


Published Date: Nov 18, 2017 | Updated Date: Nov 17, 2017

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4969 124
2 South Africa 3888 111
3 Australia 4174 104
4 New Zealand 3489 100
5 England 4829 99
6 Sri Lanka 4058 94
Rank Team Points Rating
1 South Africa 6386 120
2 India 6680 119
3 New Zealand 6650 117
4 England 6483 116
5 Australia 6077 113
6 Pakistan 4875 96
Rank Team Points Rating
1 New Zealand 2262 126
2 Pakistan 2843 124
3 India 3385 121
4 England 2029 119
5 West Indies 2538 115
6 South Africa 2238 112