CRICKET

Mendis hits de­fi­ant ton but In­dia on top

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

COLOMBO: In­dia tight­ened its grip on the sec­ond Test against Sri Lanka de­spite a fight­ing cen­tury by Kusal Mendis dur­ing the hosts’ fol­low-on in Colombo yes­ter­day. Mendis put on 191 runs for the sec­ond wicket with opener Dimuth Karunaratne (92 not out) be­fore fall­ing to pace­man Hardik Pandya for 110 just be­fore stumps on day three.

The hosts were 209 for two at close, still trail­ing In­dia by 230 runs in their sec­ond in­nings. Karunaratne and night­watch­man Malinda Push­paku­mara on two were at the crease. “Credit to them, they bat­ted re­ally re­ally well. I don’t think we did too much wrong,” In­dia’s ace spin­ner Ravichan­dran Ash­win, who took five wick­ets in Sri Lanka’s first in­nings, told re­porters.

“Hope­fully we will try and nick them off to­mor­row. I think this wicket will get slower and slower. It is not go­ing to be easy work to­mor­row for sure,” said Ash­win. Ear­lier in the day, Sri Lanka nose­dived from their overnight 50-2 to 183 all out at lunch, hand­ing the vis­i­tors a chance to clinch the three-match se­ries 2-0.

Wick­et­keeper-bats­man Niroshan Dick­wella, who top-scored for the hosts with 51 in the first in­nings, said the team needs to back it­self at the Sin­halese Sports Club Ground. “We weren’t good in the first ses­sion. We had plans be­fore the sec­ond in­nings started,” said Dick­wella.

“Track is not dif­fi­cult at all. We adapted bril­liantly. We had a plan and we ex­e­cuted it well and that’s the rea­son why we are 209 for two. “We have to back our­selves 100 per­cent. We might get out play­ing pos­i­tive shots... We are in­ter­na­tional play­ers and we need to adapt quickly,” Dick­wella added. The is­lan­ders were in early trou­ble in the sec­ond in­nings when pace­man Umesh Ya­dav got opener Upul Tha­ranga out for two af­ter lunch on a seem­ingly de­te­ri­o­rat­ing pitch.

THE MARATHON STAND

The left-right bat­ting com­bi­na­tion of Karunaratne and Mendis then dug in their heels to thwart the In­dian bowl­ing at­tack, forc­ing skip­per Vi­rat Kohli to ro­tate his op­tions. The duo han­dled the In­dian spin­ners with aplomb, us­ing their feet to good ef­fect as they com­bined the right dose of cau­tion and ag­gres­sion. “They both are great play­ers. They ex­e­cuted the plans and used the crease and swept well. Mendis has been a bril­liant player in his small ca­reer,” said Dick­wella. Mendis, who hit his third Test hun­dred, played an at­tack­ing game as he smashed 17 bound­aries be­fore let­ting go of his hard work with a catch to wick­et­keeper Wrid­dhi­man Saha.

The Colombo-born Karunaratne re­mained pa­tient dur­ing his 200-ball knock so far as he played out the re­main­ing few overs with debu­tant Push­paku­mara in a tense fin­ish to the day. But it was the first ses­sion that hit the hosts hard as they lost eight of their re­main­ing wick­ets and con­ceded a 439-run lead in re­sponse to In­dia’s formidable 622-9 de­clared. The Di­nesh Chandi­mal-led Sri Lanka need at least a draw to stay alive in the se­ries. —AFP

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