After the action-packed New Zealand series, it’s now time for the real deal. Though the fans didn’t get to see much action on Thursday, the little they saw was the tussle between bat and ball, typical of a test match.
Taking note of the overcast conditions, Sri Lanka chose to bowl on a green top at the Eden Gardens where the ball was seaming, swinging and doing all sorts of tricks.
It was the golden duck of KL Rahul that shook India up on the morning of 1st day of the opening test against Sri Lanka. After a delay of three and a half hours when the fans finally got action, they expected India to get off to a blistering start. However, luck had something else in store for them.
When the match began after the commendable efforts of the support staff at the Eden Gardens, Rahul had to depart on the first ball of the Lankan pacer Suranga Lakmal. Lakmal was on fire on Thursday as he bowled six overs all of which were maidens. He troubled the Indian batsmen and picked three crucial wickets without conceding even a single run.
Lakmal, however, did not get the much-required support of his new ball bowling partner, Lahiru Gamage. Gamage lacked consistency and failed to sustain the pressure on the Indians from his end.
Prior to this match, Rahul had scored seven fifties on the trot but he was not able to maintain his streak as he fell prey to a jaffer from Lakmal. The delivery pitched on the middle stump and swung away from Rahul, taking his outside edge through to the keeper Dickwella.
As they say, the no. 3 must always be ready to face the second ball of the match. This was exactly the case with Cheteshwar Pujara. He was duly welcomed on the crease by Lakmal’s overpitched in-swinger. The ball darted back sharply in but just bounced over Pujara’s middle stump.
A few balls later, Shikhar Dhawan hit a glorious boundary that took the middle of his bat. In the seventh over Shikhar (8) fell to an in-swinger from Lakmal while attempting an expansive drive. The ball took the inside part of Dhawan’s bat and crashed into the stumps.
Just 12 balls after Dhawan’s departure, the umpires decided to walk off the field due to bad light. A drizzle began soon as well. However, it did not last long, and play was resumed 30 minutes later.
With Virat and Pujara on the crease, India looked to play cautiously and not lose any wicket in the challenging conditions. On the first ball of the eleventh over, Virat was given leg before wicket to an in-swinger from Lakmal. Virat opted for DRS but to no avail. He returned back to the pavilion with a rare duck.
Pujara was then joined by the Indian vice-captain, Ajinkya Rahane. The duo played carefully and prevented any further damage. As India reached 17 for 3, the light started to deteriorate rapidly and any further play was not possible.
This dramatic day may not be ideal for the Indian cricket fans but it has certainly infused life into the series which was looking one dimensional till now.