Humbled for 171 in the first innings and 123 runs in arrears to Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 294, India threw caution to the wind preferring to sword edge its way to wiping out the deficit to end the fourth day on 171 for 1 wicket at Eden Gardens, Kolkotta. The openers Sikhar Dhawan (94 and K.L. Rahul unbeaten on 73 put on 166 consuming 37.1 overs in a completely contrasting batting display from the pathetic in the first innings on a wicket that had eased. Dhawan was particularly belligerent rattling up his knock off 116 balls and containing as many as 11 boundaries and two sixes while Rahul’s 73 came off 113 balls inclusive of 8 boundaries.
But Dhawan exited as dangerously as he had batted in throwing caution to the wind and swinging at a Dasun Shanaka delivery to be caught behind just 6 runs short of what would have been a superb century. The pair gave India a 48-run lead with 9 wickets intact with Pujara on 2.
It was an eventful penultimate day as Sri Lanka, resuming from an overnight 165 for 4 wickets, rallied to an useful lead thanks to a superb knock of 67 by Rangana Herath. The small made Herath took on the Indian bowling attack of everything they threw at him to bash his way in a 105 minute stay at the wicket striking 9 crisp boundaries. It was a highly commendable knock in the circumstances having walked in to bat at No.9 with the total on 244 for 8 wickets. He shared in a invaluable 46 runs for the ninth wicket with Suranga Lakmal who made 16 off 37 containing 3 boundaries.
At the resumption overnight batsmen skipper Dinesh Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella added a further 35 runs when the latter departed for 35 compiled in 38 balls and containing 5 hits to the ropes. Utility player Dasun Shanaka, who was promoted above Dilruwan Perera, was next out for a duck to make it 201 for 6. Chandimal followed with no addition to the total. He made 28 off 57 balls striking 3 boundaries. Perera, who has made a name for himself with a Test century and some consistent half centuries, who made 5, however proved to be an able all sparring with the Indian bowlers for 34 deliveries in being an able ally to Herath who opened up. The pair added an useful 43 runs for the eighth wicket. Significantly Herath displayed remarkable maturity with some of his shots flying to the boundary while he also improvised to good effect to pierce the field. It was great effort by Herath whose knock was a tall substance to giving Sri Lanka the lead they sought.
The fifth day does hold out some interest although on paper the match looks heading for a draw. Going on the strength of India’s second innings showing the host team will seek to pile on quick runs and set a fair target to bowl at the Sri Lankans.
Buvenakar Kumar and Mohammad Sami claimed 4 for 88 and 4 for 100 respectively.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-