Skipper Virat Kohli's decision to play only four specialist bowlers was vindicated as India bundled out a defensive Sri Lanka for a paltry 205 on the opening day of the second cricket Test, on Friday. At stumps, India were 11 for 1 with KL Rahul (7) back in the pavilion, being played on to a Lahiru Gamage delivery. With no demons on a sporting track where stroke-play wasn't too difficult, the visitors never got going as spinners Ravichandran Ashwin (4/67) and Ravindra Jadeja (3/56) along with comeback-man Ishant Sharma (3/37) shared the spoils. After the completion of first innings, Ashwin now has 296 wickets in his 54th Test. He will get another innings in this game plus the Delhi Test to get the remaining four scalps and break Dennis Lillee's (56 Test) record fastest to 300 wickets.
Sri Lanka were 160 for four at one stage during the final session looking good enough to stage a fightback before a batting collapse saw them lose six wickets for only 45 runs.
Their batsmen were ultra-defensive in their approach during the first session on a Jamtha track which had good bounce and carry but was far from the menacing green-top that was on offer at the Eden Gardens during the first Test match.
The lack of intent to get going in the second and third sessions affected their performance with only skipper Dinesh Chandimal (57) looked like in control till he was at the crease.
The other batsman with notable contribution was opener Dimuth Karunaratne, who was twice lucky in the first session -- being dropped once and stumped off a no-ball another time, but still he could not fully capitalize on the reprieves getting out for 51 in the post-lunch session.
The immensely talented Niroshan Dickwella (24) committed hara-kiri when things were starting to look up during the post tea-session. He tried to whip Jadeja through mid-wicket and the ball ballooned up for Ishant to take a simple catch at mid-off.
The trio of Ishant, Ashwin and Jadeja did not bowl anything exceptional but their unwavering consistency saw the Lankans buckle under pressure.
The best delivery undoubtedly was the one that Ashwin got Dasun Shanaka (2) with. Ashwin had previous bowled an off-break that made him uncomfortable and then fired an angular delivery that looked more like a leg-break clipping the off-stump.
Ishant, who normally bowls back of the length mixed it up with good full length deliveries that got him the wickets while Jadeja's armers proved to be very effective.
He was instrumental in dislodging the stodgy Karunaratne, who had by then already played 147 deliveries, hitting six boundaries.
His skipper Chandimal would have expected Karunaratne to help him in conjure a bigger partnership than the 62 runs that they added for the fourth wicket.
Ishant finally sent the dogged Karunaratne back with a delivery that looked to have straightened after pitching. Karunaratne went for DRS but the replays showed that the delivery would have hit the off-stump.
Chandimal showed more intent than his teammates to get the scoreboard moving, hitting four boundaries and a down the ground six off Jadeja.
Courtesy Chandimal, Sri Lanka managed to score 104 runs in 32 overs during the post-lunch session, losing a couple of wickets. All the hardwork was undone in the post tea session after Dickwella's dismissal. '
It also affected Chandimal's confidence as he was not the same player again.
Opting to bat, opener Sadeera Samarawickrama (13) and one down Lahiru Thirimanne (9) were out during the first session, where the visiting team went into a shell with a safety-first ploy in the 27 overs bowled during the period.
Ishant, playing his first Test since the home series against Australia, bowled his customary back of the length stuff with an occasional fuller delivery.
He set up opener Samarawickrama with a delivery that was on fifth stump. The right handed opener rightly left it but the very next delivery was fuller, angled in at a drivable length.
The batsman took the bait and the thick outside edge was pouched by Cheteshwar Pujara at first slip.
The seasoned Thirimanne was in a defensive mode from the start as his 58-ball stay at the crease would suggest. So intent he was on defending that he tried to play an ugly sweep shot to a Ravichandran Ashwin delivery that hardly turned and missed the line completely to get bowled.