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1st Test: Jadeja, bowlers help India extend stronghold over Sri Lanka

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Mohali, March 5 (IANS) Ravindra Jadeja’s career-best 175 was the centerpiece of another strong show by India’s batting before the bowlers took four wickets to help the hosts in extending their stronghold over Sri Lanka on day two of the first Test at the IS Bindra PCA Stadium on Saturday.

After Jadeja’s enthralling show propelled India to declare at a mammoth 574/8, the bowlers made inroads into Sri Lanka’s innings, leaving them at 108/4 in 43 overs, trailing by 466 runs.

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The visitors got off to a steady start as Dimuth Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne got 48 runs in the first 18 overs. India used four bowlers within the first ten overs but didn’t get much help from the pitch.

Ravichandran Ashwin’s introduction made things tough for Thirimanne and eventually, the off-spinner enticed him in defending forward and beating the inner edge to trap the batter plumb lbw.

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Karunaratne managed to survive testing over from Mohammed Shami. But Jadeja, who got some turn and created chances for lbw shouts, struck with his second ball of the day, trapping Karunaratne with a spinning-in delivery and hit him on pads plumb in front of stumps while trying to sweep.

Pathum Nissanka and Angelo Mathews looked confident at the crease after hitting some boundaries. But Jasprit Bumrah separated the duo, cleaning up Nissanka through the gate, only to realise that it came off a no-ball. Bumrah finally got a wicket when he trapped a shuffling Mathews lbw, rapping him on the back pad.

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Ashwin then came back for another spell and was rewarded with the wicket of Dhananjaya de Silva on the very first ball. De Silva shuffled across to slog-sweep to a very full delivery on off-stump and was struck plumb in front of stumps.

Jadeja had beaten Charith Asalanka on the inside edge and was successful in his lbw appeal. But Asalanka got to reverse the decision as the review showed the ball missing the stumps. Asalanka and Nissanka then ensured that Sri Lanka reached stumps with no further loss of wickets.

Earlier, the day was all about Jadeja, who reached his second Test hundred and extended that to a dominating 175. He began the day by raising his half-century with a back-foot drive slapped through cover for a boundary off Suranga Lakmal. Whenever the bowlers gave width, Jadeja was quick to pounce on them and send the ball to the boundary rope. When they tried to shift from width to straight lines, it was all too straight for Jadeja to easily swat through the leg-side.

Ashwin, on the other hand, took his time before he got going with boundaries through point and cover off Vishwa Fernando. Jadeja and Ashwin were in cruise mode, unperturbed by a bowling attack that didn’t have the services of an injured Lahiru Kumara for the rest of the match. Ashwin continued to drive with finesse and reached his 12th Test fifty with a single through covers.

Jadeja and Ashwin put 130 runs for the seventh wicket as India began to bury Sri Lanka under a heap of runs. After pulling Lakmal through mid-wicket, Ashwin tried to pull again. But Lakmal, coming from around the wicket, cramped him for room and the ball took a faint top-edge to keeper Niroshan Dickwella.

In the next over, Jadeja brought up his second Test century with a single through the cover. It was quite ironic that Jadeja, who was nicknamed ‘Rockstar’ by leg-spin great Shane Warne during the inaugural season of IPL in 2008, completed his Test hundred a day after the legendary cricketer’s demise. Post-lunch, Jayant Yadav fell for two and Jadeja had luck on his side when a pull escaped the stumps for a boundary off Fernando.

Fernando came further under attack from Jadeja as the left-hander took successive boundaries through the off-side. Jadeja then went after Lasith Embuldeniya, dancing down the pitch to hit a six down the ground followed by sweeping twice for back-to-back fours to take India’s total past 500.

Jadeja took down de Silva for a pulled four through mid-wicket and a lofted six over long-off to bring up his first 150 in Test cricket and also raise the half-century of his partnership with Shami. Shami eventually got off the mark on the 15th ball and even got a boundary as Jadeja continued to move on with ease, going past Kapil Dev’s 163 against the same opposition, to record the highest score by an Indian batter at seven in Tests.

Shami then brought up the century stand to make a hat-trick of three 100+ partnerships by the Indian lower-order. Just as one wondered if Jadeja would reach his maiden double hundred in Tests with the ease he batted throughout his knock, Rohit Sharma signalled for declaration and umpires called for an early tea, ending Sri Lanka’s misery on-field.

Brief scores: India 574/8 dec in 129.2 overs (Ravindra Jadeja 175 not out, Rishabh Pant 96; Lasith Embuldeniya 2/188, Suranga Lakmal 2/90) lead Sri Lanka 108/4 in 43 overs (Dimuth Karunaratne 28, Pathum Nissanka 26 not out; Ravichandran Ashwin 2/21, Jasprit Bumrah 1/20) by 466 runs

–IANS

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