Two good, two bad as India dominate day one of Nagpur Test against Sri Lanka

Ashish Peter 24/11/2017
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Spinners handed India the advantage on day one of the Nagpur Test.

After a curtailed but exciting drawn first Test, India and Sri Lanka got down to business in the second Test of the three-match series at Nagpur on Friday.

With another pitch bearing a greenish top on offer, it was no surprise that 11 wickets fell on the opening day after Dinesh Chandimal had won the toss and elected to bat first.

We look at two good and bad performances after India finished the day at 11-1 after bowling out the visitors for 205 runs in their first innings.

The Good

India’s spin-twins send timely reminder

In the drawn first Test at the Eden Gardens, there was a striking anomaly which occurred. For the first time in 261 Tests played at home, no Indian spinner picked up a wicket. India’s medium pacers claimed all 17 Lankan wickets to fall as Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja bowled only ten overs between them on a green track.

On Friday, another greenish top notwithstanding, India’s spin-twins showed why they have played such a vital role in the side’s ascendancy to the top of the ICC Test rankings.

The duo shared seven wickets between themselves as they rattled through Sri Lanka’s middle and lower orders, enabling the hosts to bundle out the islanders on a pitch still conducive to batting.

Ashwin picked up four wickets on the day.

Ashwin picked up four wickets on the day.

Ishant Sharma makes return count

With Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvenshwar Kumar establishing themselves as India’s frontline pace attack in the red-ball format, Ishant has been relegated to a bit-part role.

Wedding bells for Bhuvneshwar had however opened the doors for the 29-year-old to make a return to the playing XI and he made it count in spectacular fashion. The Delhi-born pacer removed both the Lankan openers with his persistent line and length.

Sadeera Samarawickrama was caught at first slip after driving one ball too many while Dimuth Karunaratne was trapped on the pads after scoring a fine half-century. Ishant then removed Suranaga Lakmal in the end to finished with figures of 3-37 in the 14 overs he bowled.

Ishant made full use of his opportunity after Bhuvenshwar's absence.

Ishant made full use of his opportunity after Bhuvenshwar’s absence.

The Bad

Samarawickrama’s loose shot gets islanders off to worst possible start

Playing only his third Test match in a still fledging career, the Sri Lankan youngster never quite looked in control in the opener’s position on Friday. The 22-year-old had a poor match at the Eden Gardens where he was dismissed for a duck and 13 runs in his two innings.

He looked all too trigger-happy in Nagpur, driving rashly a couple of times in the morning. In the end the right-handed batsman failed to reign in his driving tendencies and succumbed while chasing a wide and fuller delivery from Ishant. He could only knick the delivery to first slip where Cheteshwar Pujara took an outstanding divining catch to send the Sri Lankan opener back to the pavilion.

Samarawickrama's loose shot brought an early end to his innings.

Samarawickrama’s loose shot brought an early end to his innings.

Sri Lanka’s batting leaves a lot to be desired once again

Looking well placed at 122-3 at one stage with skipper Chandimal and Karunaratne looking solid, the islanders wasted away that advantage with the batting order crumbling once again like a pack of cards.

Apart from the fifties from Chandimal and Karunaratne, none of the batsmen got stuck in on a pitch which required some application early on but was generally good for batting.

Niroshan Dickwella once again failed to make the most of his start while veteran all-rounder Angelo Mathews did not last long either. With a line-up littered with inexperience, Sri Lanka require much more from the leaders in the team but with no batsman going on to play a long innings, their task at hand just got a whole lot more difficult.

Sri Lanka's batting floundered once again in Nagpur.

Sri Lanka’s batting floundered once again in Nagpur.

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Gallery: Smith and Marsh rescue Australia after England give early jitters

Sport360 staff 24/11/2017

Skipper Steve Smith led a rescue mission to revive Australia's fortunes after a top-order batting collapse in the Ashes Test against England in Brisbane on Friday.

Home hopes rested on Smith to mount a fighting rearguard after the loss of four wickets in a faltering chase after England's first innings of 302 at the Gabba.

At the close on the second day, the Australians were 165 for four and trailing by 137 runs, with Smith unbeaten on 64 and Shaun Marsh not out 44.

It left the match intriguingly poised once again after England ended day one in a similar position before collapsing before lunch on Friday. Smith was then thrust into another high pressure situation after Australia suffered a now-familiar malfunction at the top of the order. Check out the gallery above for all of the key moments from the second day.

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Ball says early wickets on Day 3 will hold key for England after Smith and Marsh rescue Australia

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Got the important wicket of David Warner: Jake Ball

Seamer Jake Ball believes early wickets will be the key to swing the momentum in England’s favour on day three after Steve Smith’s unbeaten half-century rescued the hosts at the Gabba.

Dawid Malan (56) contributed the tourists’ third half-century of the match but England lost their final six wickets for the loss of just 56 runs as they were bowled out for 302.

England piled the pressure on with four early wickets but an unbeaten 64 by Australia captain Smith and a patient 44 not out from Shaun Marsh provided some resistance as the Baggy Greens finished the second day on 165 for four.

Ball, who dismissed David Warner for his first Ashes wicket, told BT Sport: “The wicket isn’t too bowler-friendly so you have to stick in there and wait for the mistake. We didn’t quite expect the pitch that we have got here but I think we have adapted well with bat and ball.

“It’s pretty good, we just had a chat and we know if we get two quick wickets in the morning then you have (Pat) Cummins and (Mitchell) Starc coming in, so two quick wickets in the morning and we are right in this game.

“I think we have done excellently well today. We have executed our plans and we are due a bit of luck so in the morning hopefully we will get that.

“The atmosphere is amazing. I got a bit of stick down by the pool but that just adds to the whole occasion and that’s what you expect. It has been a really good start, a good couple of days’ cricket and I’m looking forward to the next three.”

Australia bowler Starc, who finished with figures of three for 77, praised the unbroken 89-run partnership between Smith and Marsh, alongside the bowling attack.

He said: “I guess we had to sort of adapt to the wicket – it’s not a general Gabba wicket that we see, it usually gets a bit harder on day two but it’s like a normal day one wicket.

“But we had to find a way to generate a few wickets and I think six for about 115 is a great way to finish with the ball and then a great partnership between Steve and Shaun is a great way to finish too.

“They have done fantastic. It is not the ideal start with the bat to be four for not a lot, but they dug in, faced a lot of balls and ground it out and found a way to build a nice partnership, got us to stumps and something to build on tomorrow now.” 

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