We are very well poised at this stage, says India's Cheteshwar Pujara after day two of Galle Test

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Cheteshwar Pujara celebrating after bringing up his century on Wednesday.

India have the upper hand in the first Test against Sri Lanka after having reduced the hosts to 154-5 on day two at Galle.

Earlier, Virat Kohli’s side were bowled out for 600 in their first innings with Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara notching up centuries. While Dhawan top scored with a 168-ball 190, Pujara managed 153 before being dismissed early on Thursday.

Speaking after the end of play on day two, Pujara felt that the Indian team are very well poised in the match currently.

“We would like to maintain that standard. We have scored enough runs, and we’ve got five wickets today. We are very well poised at this stage,” Pujara was quoted as saying by AFP.

“I think the key for us, even in the last season, was that we’ve bowled really well. Our bowlers are bowling good lines and lengths.”

Nuwan Pradeep (L) celebrating the dismissal of Ravichandran Ashwin.

Nuwan Pradeep (L) celebrating the dismissal of Ravichandran Ashwin.

Despite it being a disappointing couple of days for Sri Lanka, fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep put in a very good performance as he picked up bowling figures of 6-132 – his best in an innings in Test cricket.

The 30-year-old acknowledged that he didn’t start well but got better once he got into his rhythm.

“Though I didn’t start well, I thought I got better as I kept bowling. I got some rhythm,” Pradeep was quoted as saying by AFP.

“We came to the match with a plan. But the way the match went and given the state of the pitch, we had to change our plans.

“A lot of our plans didn’t work… But cricket is like that, at least we could get them out for 600.”

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Relentless Nuwan Pradeep and the other talking points as India take control on day two of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle

Ashish Peter 27/07/2017
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Nuwan Pradeep showed his class with the ball.

The Indians had the Sri Lankans rocking at 154 for the loss of five wickets at the end of play on day two of the first Test between the two neighbours at Galle.

Earlier, Virat Kohli’s men had amassed a huge first innings total of 600 runs courtesy of a quick-fire half century from debutant Hardik Pandya.

We take a look at three key talking points from an eventful day two – read the day’s full report, here.

NUWAN PRADEEP’S LONE TOIL

Shikhar Dhawan’s 190 runs on his Test return along with an unbeaten century from Cheteshwar Pujara had pulverized the Sri Lankan bowling attack on day one save one Nuwan Pradeep.

The 30-year-old seamer had toiled relentlessly on a flat and placid Galle pitch to claim the three Indian wickets to fall on day one.

He continued his one man retort to the Indian batting line-up on day two and had a well set Pujara caught behind off a peach of a delivery outside off stump in the eighth over of the day.

Pradeep made good use of the short delivery to remove Ravichandran Ashwin and sent Ravindra Jadeja’s middle stump on a cart-roll with a deathly accurate yorker.

The set-up for Jadeja’s wicket was a work of beauty with Pradeep pegging the Indian all-rounder back with a wicked bouncer in the previous delivery.

Pradeep toiled relentlessly for his first Test five-for.

Pradeep toiled relentlessly for his first Test five-for.

A first Test five-for was just reward for the pacer’s toil who finished with figures of 6/132 off his 31 overs.

PANDYA HITS HALF-CENTURY IN STYLE

The all-rounder was a surprise pick in the playing eleven given his gung-ho reputation in the shorter formats of the game. That did not deter the 23-year-old who walked in to bat at number eight after the dismissal of Wriddhiman Saha.

He could only watch from the other end as Pradeep removed Ashwin and Jadeja in quick succession to leave India at 518 for the loss of eight wickets.

Pandya then took control of the situation and counter-attacked the Sri Lankan bowlers in blistering fashion. Number 10 Mohammed Shami provided excellent support at the other end as Pandya hit three massive sixes and five boundaries to claim his maiden Test half century.

Pandya was in full flow during his quick-fire half century on debut/

Pandya was in full flow during his quick-fire half century on debut.

When the bowlers bowled short, the debutant pulled them over square and when they bowled full he thumped them down the ground. In the end he was undone going for a six too many but not before he had helped India reach the daunting 600 mark.

ABHINAV MUKUND’S ACROBATICS AT SILLY POINT

The Chennai-born opener may have failed to make the most of the excellent batting conditions on offer falling cheaply on 12 to Pradeep on day one. He more than made up for it though in the field as the Sri Lankans began their reply to India’s 600.

Fielding at silly point is never one of the more pleasant experiences of cricket and is usually reserved for the most inexperienced member of the squad.

Mukund though, made the position his own in a live-wire display highlighted by his sharp reflexes and agility. Upul Tharanga was looking extremely dangerous with his fluent cover drives and square cuts as he progressed to a relatively quick 64 runs.

The stylish left hander came down the track threateningly to an Ashwin delivery but the dip on the ball forced him to change his shot and offer a gentle push to silly point.

Mukund stooped low to gather the ball immediately and send an underarm throw back to Saha who removed the bails swiftly. It looked like Tharanga had made it back home comfortably but the third umpire review showed that his bat had bounced off in the air at the very moment the bails came off.

Mukund's swift work at silly point undid the good work done by Tharanaga

Mukund’s swift work at silly point undid the good work done by Tharanaga

Mukund was not done though and five overs later he pulled off an incredible one handed stunner to send back Sri Lanka’s wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella after the batsman poked lazily at an Ashwin delivery.

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India reduce Sri Lanka to 154-5 to take control of Galle Test

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It was a great day in the field for the Indian team.

India’s bowlers tore through the Sri Lankan top order to put the visitors firmly on top on the second day of the first Test in Galle on Thursday.

Paceman Mohammed Shami picked two wickets in the same over and Umesh Yadav got rid of opener Dimuth Karunaratne after India posted a commanding 600 all out in their first innings.

Former captain Angelo Mathews was batting on 54 with Dilruwan Perera on six when stumps were drawn for the day, with Sri Lanka still trailing by 446 runs.

Opener Upul Tharanga struck a defiant 64 off 93 balls but was run out thanks to quick fielding by Abhinav Mukund.

Mukund also took a fine diving catch to send back Niroshan Dickwella (eight) and reduce the hosts to a shaky 143-5.

Yadav gave his side an early breakthrough after the Indian lower-order batsmen scored at a quick pace despite losing wickets at regular intervals.

Yadav had Karunaratne trapped leg before and although the batsman went for a review, the decision was upheld after replays showed the ball pitching on the middle stump.

Mohammed Shami celebrates the dismissal of Danushka Gunathilaka.

Mohammed Shami celebrates the dismissal of Danushka Gunathilaka.

Shami then dismissed debutant Danushka Gunathilaka for 16 and Kusal Mendis for a duck in the space of five balls.

Mathews, who quit as captain after Sri Lanka’s recent one-day series defeat to Zimbabwe at home, tried to steady the innings and has faced 91 deliveries so far.

Earlier, paceman Nuwan Pradeep clinched his maiden five-wicket Test haul, putting the brakes on India’s free scoring.

Pradeep (6-132) dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara for 153, triggering a batting collapse which saw the tourists lose four wickets in a lively first session after resuming the day at 399-3.

Pujara hit 13 fours in his 265-ball knock to match his previous best Test score away from home of 153 against South Africa at Johannesburg in 2013.

Hardik Pandya struck a half-century on debut as India’s last two wickets added a quickfire 83 runs in 71 balls to lift the side from 517 for 8.

Shami hit Rangana Herath for three sixes while Pandya lofted Pradeep for as many sixes in an attacking batting display by India’s lower order batsmen.

Ajinkya Rahane (57) looked solid but was sent back to the pavilion after Karunaratne dived for a low catch on his right off fast bowler Lahiru Kumara.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha struck back with a sixth-wicket stand of 59, but India’s counter-attack unravelled as Sri Lanka dismissed the duo in the space of seven balls.

Ashwin (47) fell short of a well-deserved half-century while Saha (16) became the first victim of Sri Lanka skipper Herath (1-159).

Things got worse for Sri Lanka, with doctors confirming that all-rounder Asela Gunaratne was out for the remainder of the Test series with injury.

Gunaratne suffered multiple fractures on his left thumb while trying to take a catch off Shikhar Dhawan on the first day of the match on Wednesday.

“Medical experts have indicated Gunaratne will be out of action for a minimum of 6-8 weeks, and will be returned to full mobility under a strictly managed rehabilitation regime over the period,” it said in a statement.

(Provided by AFP)

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