India pin down Lankans on Day 1

Bengaluru, March 12: Shreyas Iyer’s pyrotechnics with the bat drove India to a position of strength after Sri Lanka made early inroads on a spinner-friendly track with the second Test heavily tilting in favour of the hosts, here on Saturday.
The bright afternoon sun in the beginning of the day/night contest did not allow the pink ball to swing enough and trouble the batters but the early and sharp turn on offer made life tough for the Indians, who were tottering at 126 for five at one stage.
Rishabh Pant began the counter-attack with his fiery 36-run knock and Iyer carried forward the recovery work with his scintillating 92-run knock that helped India post a decent 252 in their first innings.
Iyer’s entertaining knock, that came off 98-balls and had 10 fours and four sixes, negated all the good work done by the visiting bowlers in the first session when they had taken four wickets, including that of skipper Rohit Sharma (15) and Virat Kohli (23).
Iyer missed out on what would have been a deserving second Test hundred as he was stumped off left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama (3/81) while going for a big shot.
Later, the pink ball was expected to assist the fast bowlers in comparatively cooler floodlit conditions and the lethal India pace duo of Jasprit Bumrah (3/15) and Mohammed Shami (2/18) blew away the top-order with two wickets apiece.
Shami’s dismissal of rival captain Dimuth Karunaratne (4) was a treat to watch as the ball came in to shatter the stumps.
Sri Lanka ended the day at 86 for six, trailing by 166 runs, as 16 wickets fell on the opening day with nine of them taken by the spinners.
Old warhorse Angelo Mathews (43 off 85 balls) and Charith Asalanka (5) had a 22-run stand for the fifth wicket but it did not last long with Axar Patel getting rid of the left-hander.
Mathews’ combative knock ended when he fished outside off stum and edged one from Bumrah to Rohit in second slip.
Niroshan Dickwella (13) and Lasith Embulkdenya (0) will resume the Lankan innings on Sunday.
The sharp turn that Sri Lankan bowlers derived off the pitch coupled with the unpredictable bounce reminded of the Ahmedabad pink-ball game, where Indian spinners ruled the roost to win the game inside two days.
The world cricket is yet to see a pink-ball game, out of 18 played so far, lasting the full distance. The games under flood lights, as of now, are being dominated by the bowlers and they won’t complain.
Not even a tinge of green on the track at M Chinnaswamy stadium, India expectedly opted to bat even as Rohit, who looked fluent, and Mayank Agarwal (4) could not utilise the opportunity to score big. Exploiting the conditions to the maximum, the visiting bowlers, especially left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya (3/94) kept the Indian batters guessing and close to 25,000 fans on tenterhooks.
While Hanuma Vihari applied himself during his knock of 31 (off 81 balls), for Pant (39 of 26 balls) counter-attack was the best strategy. He went about his business in his own style while Iyer, as usual, was impressive with his controlled aggression.
Both Pant and Iyer ensured that the Lankans did not run away with the opening day honours, taking the fight to the rival camp with their fearless batting.
Kohli, who is chasing an elusive Test hundred for more than two years now, fell for 23 earlier.
India were struggling but Iyer changed the context of the match for the hosts. (PTI)

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