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Lunch report: Three-card Ashwin leaves Sri Lanka in tatters Lunch report: Three-card Ashwin leaves Sri Lanka in tatters

Aug-12-2015 | 0 Comments


In his penultimate Test match, Kumar Sangakkara found himself striding out at 15/2, two balls into the eighth over and to the sound of fireworks at the Galle International Stadium. It was hardly the start he would have wanted in his final appearance at the scenic coastal venue, but it gave the thin crowd gathered an opportunity to witness a master at work in tough conditions. Unfortunately for those hoping for a masterclass, Sangakkara's stay at the crease lasted 12 deliveries before he fell to R Ashwin just after the drinks break, at which stage Sri Lanka were in a mess at 27/3.

By lunch on day one, that total had nudged to 65/5 with Ashwin adding another couple of wickets and Sri Lanka's captain Angelo Mathews looking desperately for support in applying triage to the innings. It was India's session entirely, after being forced to field on a track that offered turn and bounce. The two fast bowlers selected, Ishant Sharma and Varun Aaron, plucked out a Sri Lankan opener each during pacy opening spells which featured appreciable bounce from a dry surface. Then Ashwin, leader of a three-pronged spin attack, kept India's close-in catchers busy in a crippling six overs that produced three wickets.

Ishant was the better of the two quicks during a lively opening burst of 7-3-7-1, consistently hitting a nice length around off stump and sending down the odd short delivery cleverly. Dimuth Karunaratne, whose scores in the three Pakistan Tests included 130, 50 and 79, was largely unconvincing during his 19-ball stay as he either tucked to leg or prodded forward without a full stride. Kaushil Silva was kept scoreless until his 13th delivery faced, which was also the first boundary of the match, as he rode the bounce of Aaron and tapped four behind point. Off the very next delivery, Kaushal threw his bat at a wider delivery and was dropped by Shikhar Dhawan at first slip, a straightforward chance gone begging.

The breakthrough eventually came in the seventh over, when Karunaratne lamely popped an Ishant bouncer from around the stumps to Ajinkya Rahane at gully. Moments later, Dhawan atoned for his earlier gaffe when he dived behind second slip to hold onto a top edge from Silva (5) off the first ball of Aaron's fourth over, though replays showed the ball had kissed the batsman's arm guard. Sri Lanka had lost both openers without a run added to the 15 on the board.

Possessing a batting average of 57.31 in 16 Tests against India leading into this one - and which swells to 74.66 when playing them in Sri Lanka - Sangakkara kept quiet with Ishant pitching on a teasing length outside off stump while looking for shape inwards. The first hour produced a mere 27 runs, of which eight came in boundaries.

Virat Kohli turned to Ashwin after 11 overs, with two catchers in place for Sangakkara, and one of them was into play almost immediately. Playing when moving back, Sangakkara misjudged the pace and pushed straight to an alert KL Rahul at silly point. In Ashwin's fifth over, Lahiru Thirimanne - whom some will feel was fortunate to hold onto his place after scoring 90 runs in six innings - poked to slip on 13. Next to go was Jehan Mubarak for 0, popping Ashwin to short leg.

Amit Mishra, playing his first Test in four years, was called on before Harbhajan Singh and bowled three unassuming overs before the interval.

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