The Indian bowlers, led by spin twins Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, put their team in the driver's seat at the end of Day 1 of the second Test of the series against Sri Lanka in Nagpur. In doing so, they nullified the advantage the visitors seemed to have got by adding 104 runs in the post-lunch session. The Lankans had a torrid time on either side of that session, moving at snail's pace in the first session to score only 47 in 27 overs, and undergoing a collapse of sorts in the last, losing six wickets for 54 runs.
This kind of a batting performane could not, however, be put down on a menacing track as the one in Kolkata. There was good bounce and carry, but nothing that would threaten life and limb. It was in the end some crafty bowling and some poor application by the batsmen that resulted in Sri Lanka having already been pushed on back foot.
India, however, would have wanted to go to stumps with all their wickets intact, to make it a really fruitful day. But that was not to be as KL Rahul, after having played a delectable off-drive to the fence on the first ball of the innings, chopped a Lahiru Gamage delivery back on to his stumps. However, despite the loss of that wicket, India are in a commanding position.
The idea on Day 2 would be to first erase the 194-run deficit, and then pile on the runs. Even if they score at three runs per over, which is a conservative estimate, given the strength of the Indian batting line-up and a pitch that has no gremlins in it, India would be ahead by around 100 runs at the end of the day. And if they can get there without losing too many wickets, the Lankans would be chasing the game from thereon.
What the Indians should be careful is to not commit the blunders that the Sri Lankans did, first by going into a shell, and then throwing their wickets away. The first hour would be crucial, when the Sri Lankan pacers would go at the Indians hard, trying to utilise whatever juice that there may be on the wicket. The hosts would want to negotiate this period without too many mishaps.
Murali Vijay would be keen to make an impressions strong enough to stake his claim as the first-choice opener for the rest of the series and in South Africa. Giving him company is Cheteshwar Pujara, who can grind and frustrate the best of attacks into submission. Then of course there is the mighty Virat Kohli and the cool-as-a-cucumber Ajinkya Rahane. Ashwin, Jadeja and Wriddhiman Saha have proved time and again that they can be more than handy with the willow.
So things don't look too hunky dory for the Lankans, having folded up for a subpar total. The hosts, on the other hand, would be smacking their lips at the opportunity to bat the entire day on Saturday and consolidate their position in this match further.
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