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IND vs SL 2nd Test Day 4: Rahane Ton Sets Sri Lanka Massive Target

By on August 23, 2015

Sri Lanka 306 and 72 for 2 (Karunaratne 25*, Mathews 23*, Ashwin 2-27) need another 341 runs to beat India 393 and 325 for 8 dec. (Rahane 126, Vijay 82, Prasad 4-43, Kaushal 4-118)…

As the Colombo Test headed towards its decisive fifth and final day, Kumar Sangakkara had a rare opportunity of making a glorified exit from international cricket. Into his final innings, Sangakkara was batting on 18, and was looking rather confident before the moment every Sri Lankan dreaded arrived. A dipping delivery from Ravichandran Ashwin, a nick and a catch safely pouched.

This summed up Sangakkara’s final innings as the entire stadium stood up to pay tribute to their most prolific cricketer. Sangakkara’s exit, the fourth time in the series to Ashwin, left Sri Lanka at 33/2, still 380 behind the 413-run target India had set them.

Ashwin had already removed opener Kaushal Silva to a softie and Sri Lanka still had to face 13 overs in which they needed to prevent the equation from getting worse. Out walked skipper Angelo Mathews and he gave Sri Lanka no further reasons to panic.

IND vs SL 2nd Test Day 4: Ajinkya Rahane

Credits: ESPN CricInfo

He and Dimuth Karunaratne provided some respite and took Sri Lanka through to stumps at 72 for 2. But it’ll still require a herculean effort of them and the remaining batsmen in order for Sri Lanka to escape with a draw and deny India a series-levelling win.

Even though Sri Lanka once again lost an opener quickly, Sangakkara cracked a couple of boundaries off Ishant Sharma to settle the nerves. But once again his uncertain footwork towards one of those perfectly-flighted Ashwin deliveries got him to edge the ball to Murali Vijay at first slip. Ashwin was once again impeccable with this line, even troubling Karunaratne, who escaped a close leg lbw appeal. But the batsman, despite looked a bit scratchy, found some steam with three fours off him during the closing stages of play. At the other end, Mathews had quietly moved to 23, hopeful of repeating his first innings heroics.

One of the main reasons behind India setting Sri Lanka a record target at the P Sara Oval is Ajinkya Rahane, who continues to prove time and time again as to why he is the solution for India’s middle-order woes. Make him bat anywhere and he’ll end up scoring runs. Having earlier scored Test centuries batting at either No. 5 or 6, here Rahane registered his fourth three-digit score – first against Sri Lanka and batting at No. 3. Rahane and India will hope his effort results in a win on Monday.

Rahane though wasn’t the lone catalyst. First up, there was Murali Vijay, who despite suffering from bouts of cramps that kept him out of the Galle Test, went into overdrive after reaching his fifty and along with Rahane, batted smoothly for the better part of the morning session. Then in the afternoon, Rohit Sharma forged an 85-run alliance with his Mumbai team-mate. Even though India were ahead by quite a margin by then, that particular stand gave India some breathing ground.

Rahane and Vijay batted with a certain degree of awareness. India’s intention was clear – carefully see through the first half an hour and once settled, score as many runs as possible to give themselves enough time to bowl Sri Lanka out. The pair went about their batting with the same approach and built on India’s overnight lead of 87 runs. Rahane, little troubled by Rangana Herath last evening, batted much better against the spinners today.

His innings was reminiscent to the 96 he scored against South Africa in Durban 2013. He looked in no hurry and batted with immense composure. He was successful in his pursuit of not letting Herath settle in as he milked him for singles and showed a bit of class in chipping him down the ground. With India in search of quick runs, Rahane hit Herath for four boundaries in four overs and reached his hundred with a dab down to fine-leg.

Rohit wasn’t as fluent as he was in the first innings, hence he started slow, but he did well to regularly rotate the strike. Rahane at the other end was more preserved, and he never looked in any sort of discomfort. 50 out his first 100 runs were singles – an indication that he wanted to anchor India through to safety. Despite all that precaution, India managed to score at over four after lunch as the first two session yielded 213 runs.

Even though Sri Lanka failed to seize the initiative, Tharindu Kaushal gave them reasons to cheer. There was a bit of turn in the surface, and operating round the wicket, the offspinner operated mostly on the middle-stump line to which kept the batsman alert. In the morning session, he first snared Vijay, and then Virat Kohli, both of whom he dismissed leg before wicket. And later, just when India seemed to be cruising along after tea, he removed Rohit and Rahane off successive overs.

Dhammika Prasad got the better of India’s lower-middle order to end with 4/43, but Saha later came out to bat, and along with Amit Mishra, provided India with a late impetus as their lead surpassed 400.

Source: Times Of India

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