While talks surrounding the Indian tour of South Africa continues to gain momentum, Thursday served as a reality check for Team India on a greenish Eden track. This was after Sri Lanka’s seam-bowling attack thrived on conditions conducive to bowling and exposed the Indian top order threadbare. After a delayed start due to rain and overcast conditions, Lankan skipper Dinesh Chandimal won the toss and had no hesitation in opting to bowl first.
Suranga Lakmal did not disappoint his skipper as he struck off the first ball to remove KL Rahul. After seven consecutive fifties, Rahul became the sixth Indian batsman to be dismissed in the first ball of a Test. Lakmal’s persistent line and length along with lateral movement saw him trouble the Indian batsmen. Shikhar Dhawan was his next victim when he edged one back on to his stumps.
Lakmal consistently got the ball to move away from the right-handers and kept troubling the Indian batsman. His next victim was the prized wicket of Virat Kohli. After bowling a few outswingers, he trapped Kohli with an incoming delivery. Kohli also failed to open his scorecard and incidentally this was his sixth duck in Test match cricket.
However, rain-gods kept playing spoilsport throughout the day as play was regularly interrupted due to light showers and drizzle. Only 11.5 overs were bowled throughout the day. Suranga Lakmal bowled six of them in which he did not concede a single run. Whether the Indian batsman can come up with a better performance with the willow on day two is a matter of conjecture but with Rahane and Pujara at the crease, the home team will have a glimmer of hope under the grey clouds.
At the end of day’s play, India’s scoreboard read 17/3. Cheteshwar Pujara fought a lone mini battle as he battled hard for his unbeaten 8 off 43 deliveries. On Day 2, if the weather permits full quota of overs, India need to bat really well on what is expected to be a challenging wicket.